SERMON SERIES

The Power of Gratitude


Believe Generously


11/22/2020

We come to the end of our sermon series The Power of Gratitude with the sermon Believe Generously.  Difficult times always breed a loss of generosity.  Stress, uncertainty, and fear cause us to cling to our material things and trust that our resources will protect us.  If we believe that we are threatened by circumstances, it is normal and natural to seek self-protection.  However, if we truly believed that life is a gift from God and God holds us in his hands, would this alter our sense of generosity?  We have the testimony of many generations of believers throughout scripture that say with one voice: “God is faithful and trustworthy!” Yet, as we go through our lives, we struggle to believe, especially in difficult times.  This week, we turn 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. The Corinthians are like us, they were struggling to believe that God would supply their needs.  They had committed to help with an offering, but were beginning to waiver on their promise.   Paul shares with them that the power of a generous life is to be found in believing generously in what God has done for us!  As you come to worship, we want you to be renewed in the joy of what God has done for you because it will lead you to greater joy, praise, and thanksgiving!  May you find the joy of God’s grace as you read 2 Corinthians 9: 6-16:  6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

The Power of Gratitude


Be the Blessing


11/15/2020

It seems that nothing is uncomplicated during this season.  We have voted, but the results are not yet confirmed.  The number of COVID-19 infections has increased dramatically in the northern states and the debate continues about how to respond.  A vaccine has cleared another stage of the development, but it is not ready for distribution.  We may wonder what does it matter what we do, since we can control so very little? In our series, The Power of Gratitude, we turn to 2 Kings 7:3-10 which tells of a miraculous event that took place in northern Israel for the city of Samaria.  In the sermon, Be the Blessing, we understand that God sometimes uses insignificant people to accomplish great and powerful things.  God uses the despairing and desperate plan of four lepers to bring about a miracle.   Yet, it is also a witness to us.  We may feel small and insignificant, but our actions can have far more impact than we can imagine!  As you read this text, you cannot help but sense desperation being transformed into determination!  Perhaps this will be our choice during this season, will we be desperate or determined?  May you find the transforming presence of the Living God as you read 2 Kings 7:3-10: 3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’– the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” 5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” 10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there– not a sound of anyone– only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” (NIV) 

SERMON SERIES

The Power of Gratitude


Blessed by Grace


11/08/2020

We continue our series The Power of Gratitude with the sermon Blessed by Grace.  Gratitude is believing that we have received more than we deserve.  Our entitled society tells us that we deserve more rather than less.  When we lose any sense of gratitude for our lives, our nation, or our relationships, we become angry and resentful.  The pastor Andy Stanley says that “you owe me” is the foundation of anger.  Perhaps our lack of thankfulness and gratitude explains some of the turmoil in 2020.  What do we deserve?  If most of us were to get what we actually deserved from God it would not be pretty.  God does not give us what we deserve because of one word: grace!  In the sermon Blessed by Grace we turn to Colossians 3:8-17.  These words remind us of the battle of the Christian life, we must strip away the dead ways of sin and put on the new life of Jesus Christ.  How is this possible?  Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul gives these early Christians and us a path to tearing off the old ways and living into a powerful grace!  May you find the grace of God’s Spirit filling you with thankfulness as you as you read Colossians 3:8-17:  8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:8-17 NIV)

SERMON SERIES

The Power of Gratitude


Bless the Lord


11/01/2020

We begin a new sermon series entitled, The Power of Gratitude. As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important for us to “count our blessings,” especially after the difficulty of 2020. Difficulty, fear, and uncertainty will drain our sense of hope and thankfulness. Some writers claim there is now a “covid-19 fatigue syndrome.” It is no wonder we find ourselves emotional and spiritually exhausted! It is time to be filled! This week, we turn to Psalm 16. This psalm was written by the King David who understood the difficulty of uncertainty and fear. Before he was king, he was a humble shepherd boy who understood the fear of fighting the predators that would attack the sheep. In the Psalm 16, David helps us find the power of gratitude through a single phrase: “Bless the Lord!” In the New International Version it is translated in Psalm 16:7, “praise.” In the sermon, Bless the Lord, we discover the reason for David’s praise and thanksgiving! David has found a way to be filled even in the most draining moments! As you read Psalm 16, we pray that you will be filled with God’s goodness and a certainty that God is with you! Psalm 16: A miktam of David. Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. 5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Finding the Heart of Redemption


The Why


10/25/2020

This week, we finish our sermon series Finding the Heart of Redemption with the sermon, The Why. The “why” of redemption is a complex and enduring story. God wants to redeem us, but what does this mean for our lives? If we understand redemption, does it help us overcome the divisions and problems that we are experiencing today? In order to move beyond a broken past, we have to find healing and restoration, in our society as well as in our lives. This involves genuine forgiveness and a deeper love than we usually witness in our world! In Hebrews 9:12-22, the writer is trying to help us understand the power at work in the redemption found in Jesus Christ. In many ways this is a complex passage that shares with us a different view of what happens upon the cross. Yet, these verses help us to realize the power of being cleansed from sin and being set free to serve God. A new force is now at work to bring us into God’s presence! As you read Hebrews 9:12-22, it is our prayer that you are brought into the very presence of Christ to sense the wholeness and hope of God’s redeeming power! Hebrews 9:12-22:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance– now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NIV)

 

SERMON SERIES

Finding the Heart of Redemption


The Wanderer


10/18/2020

All of us are in need of redemption in our lives.  As we look at America today, we can see that many of our past sins are still alive.  How will we move beyond a broken past?  In our individual lives we all struggle to get beyond the shame of our worst moments.  Where is the hope?  Our sermon series, Finding the Heart of Redemption gives us hope that transformation is an option for our lives!  In the sermon, The Wanderer, we recognize that we all are like sheep, we have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) but God wants us to find our way home.  This week, we turn to Jeremiah 31:11-20 because it is filled with grief and sorrow being transformed into joy and celebration. How do we find this transformation?  The prophet Jeremiah confirms that God renews and restores those who are in the strong grip of a sorry past!  It was not just for Jeremiah’s time but for all us!  As you read Jeremiah 31:11-20, let this joy fill your heart.  Let this hope be your strength. Let these words be God’s Word to you!  Jeremiah 31:10-20:11 For the LORD will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD– the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the LORD. 15 This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” 16 This is what the LORD says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD. “They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the LORD. “Your children will return to their own land. 18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the ORD. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Finding the Heart of Redemption


The Walk


10/11/2020

We continue seeking God’s redeeming power for our lives in the sermon series, Finding the Heart of Redemption. Almost all of 2020 has been framed with fear, confusion, violence and uncertainty.  We are struggling with the darkness of uncertainty and despair.  Uncertainty is not knowing what we can believe.  Despair is realizing that the things we know are not good.  We have been walking in this darkness for months.  Redemption is the power to bring the light of trust and goodness to our lives.  We are not the first people to encounter difficult times or hard circumstances.  This week we turn to the prophet Micah.  The people in Micah’s time were building a vicious and destructive society because they refused to listen to God.  In Micah 6:14 God tells them the impact of their direction: 14 No matter how much you get, it will never be enough— hollow stomachs, empty hearts. No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it— bankrupt lives, wasted souls. Micah 6:13-14 (MSG) Is this the last word for them?  Never!  Micah 6:1-8 urges them to change their direction.  In the sermon, The Walk, these verses help us to move out of the shadows and the deepest darkness into the warmth of God’s redeeming power!  May you see the brightness of God’s redeeming love as you read Micah 6:1-8: Listen to what the LORD says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2 “Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. 3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. 5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” 6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Finding the Heart of Redemption


The Way


10/04/2020

We begin a new series this week, Finding the Heart of Redemption.  Redemption is an ancient, but very important word.  When we find redemption, we are able to let go of anger.  When experience redemption, we are able to move beyond division.  When we live out of redemption, we are able to share forgiveness.  Redemption brings so many other powerful realities to our lives: renewal, hope, joy, and unity!  As we have watched the events of 2020, we cannot help but ask, “What will help us find wholeness in our fractured world?”  Our first sermon in this series is: The Way. We turn to Isaiah 35:1-10.  This prophetic word was to encourage God’s people who were enduring difficulty, division, and doubt.  The vision of Isaiah reminds us that God’s redeeming power is at work, even in the darkest times.  God’s way of redemption is filled with transformation and hope! This is God’s heart, and it was not just for the people of Isaiah’s time, but for all of us!  May you sense the redeeming power of God strengthening your heart as you read Isaiah 35:1-10: The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


What have we learned?


9/27/2020

This week, we come to the end of our sermon series, Seek Peace and Pursue it, with the sermon, What have we learned?  The past few months have been filled with turmoil and unrest. Even as order is restored, we realize the divisions in our world are deep.  How can we find a peace that will end anger and hostility? How can we move beyond the deep divisions of our world and in our lives?   One of the great obstacles for the early church was the division between the Jewish and Gentile believers.  The Gentiles considered the Jews to be arrogant and legalistic.  The Jews saw the Gentiles as idolatrous, spiritually undisciplined, and unworthy of salvation.  Paul tells the Ephesian church that in Jesus Christ the “dividing wall of hostility” has been broken down.  What does this mean for our lives?  It means that we can challenge anger, hatred, and division with the spiritual power of faith and hope.  May you sense the presence and care of the Prince of Peace as you read Ephesians 2:13-22:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


The Return of the Bridegroom


9/20/2020

This week in our series, Seek Peace and Pursue It, we turn to a familiar but powerful passage of scripture, John 13:36-14:7.  These are some of Jesus’s last words to his disciples before the crucifixion.  Jesus was preparing them for the fear, uncertainty, and trauma that was about to happen.  Jesus is using an image that they understand, but not one that is familiar to us.  The Jewish wedding ritual was an intricate process which focused on the preparation of the bride and the coming of the bridegroom.  Jesus is assuring them through this image that he is truly God’s Son and he will keep his promise to them.  What does this mean to us?  In the sermon, Return of the Bridegroom, we realize that peace is based upon a confidence in God’s promises to us.  It is an option because Jesus is dependable and trustworthy.  John is writing these words to all future believers to help them realize that even in the most difficult moments and in the darkest night, there is peace and the light of the resurrection’s power.    We pray that this light shines upon you as you read John 13:36-14:7: 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”  38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!  John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”  5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


Encouraging


9/13/2020

We hope you’re finding the peace of Christ increasing in your heart and life as we continue our sermon series, Seek Peace and Pursue It.  It is important for us to be intentional about seeking peace during times of turmoil and stress.  The sermon title this week is a singular word that we want to hear, Encouraging.  We have had plenty of things to discourage us and it’s easy to sense the darkness of despair coming upon our minds and spirits.  Paul, in Philippians 4:4-13, is writing from the darkness of a prison cell, but he is sharing an incredibly encouraging light of hope.  He is responding to the Philippian church, who has sent him a gift and he is so thankful.  In the process of expressing his gratitude, he tells them the source of the light of hope and peace.  God wants to encourage you today!  As you read Philippians 4:4-13, may your heart be lifted into a surpassing peace by God’s grace and love.  Philippians 4:4-13: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me– put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


ENabling


9/06/2020

Happy Labor Day!  This Labor Day is very special because during this pandemic we can see the importance of labor!  We can celebrate the medical professionals and the police patrol; the grocery store checkout person, and the warehouse worker; the airline pilot, and the auto repair person.  Each one has played a role in giving care and getting supplies during this difficult year!  May God bless your efforts and energy!  We continue to Seek Peace and Pursue It in our sermon series with the sermon, Enabling. We turn to Romans 5:1-10.  During this pandemic, we have heard a lot of justification for destructive and abusive behavior.  This is nothing new.  We, at times, find ourselves justifying our behavior which we know does not honor God.  In these verses, Paul invites us to find a peace that enables our lives to find hope, strength, and salvation.  It is a peace that enables us to find joy, even in the most difficult time.  As you read Romans 5:1-10, we pray that you will sense the Holy Spirit filling you with God’s love and power.  Romans 5:1-10 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


ENDURING


8/30/2020

In our series Seek Peace and Pursue It, we turn to one of the most difficult times for the Jewish people.  In 587 BC the city of Jerusalem was besieged and eventually conquered by the Babylonian empire.  Many of the leaders were exiled to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem.  These people could not believe what was happening to them.  Their lives had been completely uprooted.  They were living in a strange land, and they desperately wanted to return home!  The Word of the Lord came to them through the prophet Jeremiah, and it was not what they wanted to hear.  They were thinking this was a bad dream and it would be over soon.  God’s Word told them to settle in, get ready for the long haul, and pray for the peace of Babylon!  More than that, God had a plan to prosper them exactly where they were, but they did not want to see it!  We find ourselves in similar circumstances, but the Word that came through Jeremiah still speaks to us.  In the sermon, Enduring, we find that peace is not disconnected or random, but it is a part of God’s plan to give us the strength to make it through our circumstances!  We pray that you will find the peace of our living God as you read Jeremiah 29:4-13:  4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.  9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD. 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


ENGAGING


8/23/2020

We continue the sermon series, Seek Peace and Pursue It with the sermon, Engaging.  It seems that we are witnesses to a perfect storm of unrest.  The tension in our society and in our lives is like a pressure cooker which has reached its limit and is about to explode!  It is impacting our homes, our cities, and our nation.  God does not want us to explode, instead God wants us to release the pressure of our lives with hope and joy.  Maybe we have been lazy about genuine peace.  A lazy peace is only concerned about “my” peace, but unconcerned when others are suffering.  As believers, we are lulled into contentment because everything is good in our world.  This week, we turn to 1 Peter 3:8-18.  The Apostle Peter quotes Psalm 34 which we used last week, and he helps us to better apply pursuing peace to the pressure of our lives.  These early Christians were suffering.  They were being insulted, shamed, and mistreated.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter tells them that what they were enduring is a blessing not a curse! How can this be?  As he writes to the early believers, he gives us great direction for our time.  Peter wants them engage in a peace that will see them through tough times!  As you read 1 Peter 3:8-18, we pray that you will sense the release of the tension in your heart and be filled with the Holy Spirit!  1 Peter 3:8-18: 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT


eMPOWERING


8/16/2020

We begin a new series this Sunday, Seek Peace and Pursue It.  We are enduring one of the most traumatic times in recent memory.  Turmoil seems to be all around us, and it causes us to be distressed and discouraged.  We feel so powerless to impact anything around us.  God does not want us to feel powerless, instead God wants to empower us with a timeless peace.  In the sermon, Empowering we begin with Psalm 34: 11-22.  It contains the title of this series, but it also helps us find the strength of God’s peace for our lives.  These words share with us a strength that will overcomes doubt, despair, and discouragement and lead us to the quiet waters of eternal hope.  May God give you the gift of His peace as you read Psalm 34:11-22:  11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. 14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. 21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. (NIV)

 

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


Free to Forgive


8/9/2020

This week we come to the end of our series Liberty and Justice for All with the sermon Free to Forgive.  How does our society move forward from the divisions, brokenness and failures?  We see the impact of the “cancel culture” in which people have been fired or have resigned, due to their failures or at times simply because of an unpopular decision.  We have seen statues torn down in an attempt to erase the past, but it does not truly cleanse us of guilt.  Shame and guilt continue to be used as weapons, but these only enhance our divisions and anger!  What can we do?  We have to break the chain of shame and find the freedom to forgive.  We turn to Isaiah 61:1-8 for help.  Jesus reads the first two verses as the commission of his ministry.  These verses are filled with transformation, wholeness, and hope to overcome a shameful past and look toward a new future.  These words are not just for Jerusalem or Israel, now because of Jesus, they are for all of us!  Let these words of healing minister to your heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let them lift you from the fear and despair of our cancel culture into the light of God’s forgiving presence!  Isaiah 61:1-8:The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


Free to Obey


8/2/2020

Our sermon series “Liberty and Justice for All” continues to build upon the simple fact that we cannot have a genuine freedom without virtue (truth, goodness, love, and loyalty).  If this is true, then we have to recognize that freedom grows through the right kind of obedience.  Jesus, in John 8:31-42, talks about God’s desire to set us free.  One of the best-known verses is “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) It seems that every day in this pandemic we are searching for the truth, because we know it has the power to set us free.  Sometimes, it seems that all of human history is defined by our search for the truth.  Jesus helps us to find the truth that truly frees us.  In the sermon, “Free to Obey,” we discover there is great power in our choices.  Our choices determine if we have genuine freedom or if we are actually enslaved to our selfish human nature.  As you read John 8:31-42, we pray that you will sense the chains of despair and darkness that are being broken through the good news of God’s truth!  John 8:31-42 Even as he spoke, many believed in him. 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. ” 39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.” (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


Living Beyond Condemnation


7/26/2020

We continue our series “Liberty and Justice for All” with the sermon, “Living Beyond Condemnation.” This has been an unparalleled time in our society.  Everyone can sympathize and mourn the injustices of our past, but each day brings a weight of condemnation and an attempt to shame a person, a past, or a political view.  Many of us feel overwhelmed by the pandemic and the protests that have engulfed our nation!  Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:9-4:2, has come through a season of being overwhelmed.  He was brought so low, that he wanted to give up!  But he did not, because of the power of the Holy Spirit.  To make matters worse, the Corinthians had received letters condemning this Apostle and the Gospel that he preached!  In these verses, Paul tells the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit makes our spirit come to life through grace and forgiveness.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we find hope and transformation!  He shares with them a path to lift the weight of condemnation and to be infused with God’s goodness.  As you read 2 Corinthians 3:9-4:2, we pray that your burden of fear will be lifted by the presence of the living God.  And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


MIrror, Mirror


7/19/2020

Who can forget the story of Snow White? Walt Disney became famous for his 1937 movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the story has been remade several times.  It is a classic story of good and evil, purity versus corruption, and love conquering hate.  We are able to see clearly the vanity and jealousy of the evil queen when she says to the magic mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall….”  It is hard for us to get a genuine picture of ourselves.  As we go through this pandemic, we wonder if we are seeing the true picture.  In our sermon series, Liberty and Justice for All, we turn to James 1:17-27 with the sermon, Mirror, Mirror.  These people were very similar to us. They were going through difficult times.  They were angry; blaming each other and even God for their misfortune. James tells them that there is a better way, but they have to see the true reflection of themselves and God.  When we see our clear reflection, we are set free to find the right action, blessings, and peace!  As you read James 1:17-27, may the power of the living Word fill you with joy, hope, and peace!  James 1:17-27:  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it– not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it– they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


FINDING JUSTICE?


7/12/2020

We continue our sermon series Liberty and Justice for All with the sermon Finding Justice?  As we have experienced the events of the protests, the removal of statues, and the creation in Seattle of a “cop free zone” we are left to wonder, “What is justice?”  We can all recognize the failure of human justice.  Life is not fair.  People do not get what they deserve and others get more than they deserve.  Scripture is clear; God is the genuine source of justice and righteousness, but what does this mean for our lives?  This week, we turn to Deuteronomy 5:6-15 which is the first part of the Ten Commandments.  These verses help us capture a vision of genuine justice that is beyond our broken human definitions. These verses help us seek a higher justice for our lives.  They also help us understand how God wants to share with us His love and grace to be free from judgment and condemnation.  As you read these verses, may you find the grace and power of God lifting you from the burden of broken human nature and into God’s holy presence! Deuteronomy 6:6-15: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 “You shall have no other gods before me. 8 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Liberty and Justice for All


FREE FOR A PURPOSE


7/5/2020

Happy 4th of July!  It is a wonderful time to celebrate the freedom of our country.  Despite the problems of the pandemic and the struggles we are having as a nation, we are free!  Yet, in some ways we are more confused than ever about freedom and what it means for our lives.  We begin a new sermon series, “Liberty and Justice for All.”  This simple phrase is not only part of the Pledge of Allegiance, but it also is one of the grand and enduring American ideas.  This has not been fully realized, but it is a worthy and admirable goal.   The freedom of America and humanity begins with God’s desire to set all of humanity free.  God’s freedom can truly fulfill the statement of “liberty and justice for all” and all human freedom points us to the basic reality for God’s desire to set us free.  We begin this series with “Free for a Purpose” and Exodus 6:5-13.  Moses has told Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go free. Instead, Pharaoh only increases their workload!  They are so discouraged.  Yet God tells them that there is a deeper purpose at work in their lives which will begin a process of freedom for them and all of humanity!  As you read Exodus 6:5-13, may the chains of fear and uncertainty be broken by the power of God’s presence!  Exodus 6:5-13: Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’” 9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. 10 Then the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.” 12 But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” 13 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

IMPERISHABLE: FINDING THE THINGS THAT MATTER


IMPERISHABLE YOU


6/28/2020

We complete our sermon series “Imperishable, Finding the Things that Matter Most,” with the sermon “Imperishable You.” How we respond to life is highly dependent upon how we envision the future.  If we think that the future is dismal, then we have to work through our despair.  However, when we think the future is bright, we will find a greater hope.  An increasing number of people in American society are discouraged about the future! What we believe has a powerful impact upon us. This is especially true for believers.  If we believe in Jesus Christ, then we will have eternal life.  How does this help us as we confront the despair of our world?  Does it mean that we don’t care what happens around us, because we know that we are going to a better place?  Does it direct our lives in any meaningful way?  For the final sermon in this series we turn to Romans 6:14-23.  The Apostle Paul is writing to the Roman church in order to deepen their understanding of the power of believing in Jesus.  The last verse of chapter 6 is well known and offers a very stark choice: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) If we read these verses closely, we can envision a different future for our lives, one that is defined by hope and goodness, regardless of what is happening around us.  It also gives us direct help to be the light, rather than be overwhelmed by the darkness!  We pray that as you read these verses, that the light of Christ’s peace and love fills your soul: Romans 6:14-23 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey– whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

IMPERISHABLE: FINDING THE THINGS THAT MATTER


ETERNAL FATHER


6/21/2020

We continue our series Imperishable: Finding the Things that Matter Most with sermon Eternal Father. This Sunday is Father’s Day and it is a good time to honor our earthly fathers and their contributions to our lives. It is also a good time to consider this eternal Father. Our problem is that our heavenly Father is shrouded in mystery, because “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, God’s ways are not our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) The only way we can understand God is through God’s self-revelation in scripture. This week we turn to Isaiah 64:4-12, because the prophet Isaiah is wondering why God doesn’t make things clearer and more obvious. All of us have this question, especially during difficult times. As Isaiah confronts this question, he comes to some important realizations that help us in our lives. He captures a vision of the God who is absolutely and complete holy, yet who is also our Father. Isiah’s vision helps us to understand God’s power even in difficult times. As you read Isaiah 64:4-12, pray that you will find the strength and joy of your heavenly Father! Isaiah 64:4-12: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. 5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. 8 Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. 10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. 12 After all this, LORD, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure? (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

IMPERISHABLE: FINDING THE THINGS THAT MATTER


JOY


6/14/2020

Have you ever thought about the power of joy in your life?  Or have you ever considered what causes us to have joy?  We continue this week with our series Imperishable: Finding The Things that Matter Most with a simple reality of “Joy.”  The last few months have drained us of joy.  The grim realities of the spread Covid-19 and the reemergence of an older virus called, “racism” has depleted our sources of joy.  The American society has been living on a diet of fear, anxiety, and anger.   God shares with us a joy that is like no other.  It is a joy that does not fade with time or circumstance.  It is a joy that is imperishable because it begins with God.  This week, we turn Psalm 51:4-17.  King David has been confronted with his own sins of adultery, murder, and lying.  The affair with Bathsheba having Uriah, her husband, killed and the ensuing cover up have been exposed publicly!  The shame and disgrace had to be overwhelming!  Yet, David shows us a path to joy through God’s redemption. Regardless of our broken lives or our broken society it is a joy that is for all of us. As you read Psalm 51:4-17, may you be filled with the joy of God’s presence!  Psalm 51:4 -17 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

IMPERISHABLE: FINDING THE THINGS THAT MATTER


HOPE


6/7/2020

We continue this week with our series Imperishable: Finding the Things that Matter Most with the sermon, Hope.  Hope is often fragile and uncertain.  The events that have unfolded over the last couple of weeks, with the demonstrations and looting, in response to the killing of George Floyd are a stark reminder that we are losing hope.  These tragic events coupled with the stress of the pandemic have created a cauldron of despair, frustration, and anger.  As believers, we have an imperishable hope that is found throughout the Bible that gives us light even in the darkest times.  We find it clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:22-34.  The Apostle Paul is confronting the Corinthians, because they are saying there is not a resurrection.  They do not realize the full implications of their failure to believe.  They are being robbed of hope and the power to fully live the Christian life.  In the darkness of life and walking through the shadow of death, this is a steady courageous light that empowers Christian living.  As you read 1 Corinthians 15:22-34, what is the defining story of your life?  These words remind us that we are part of a grand story of hope that is forever and ever.  Even more than that, this imperishable hope helps us endure hardship and difficulty!  We pray that you will be lifted into the light of hope as you read these verses.  1 Corinthians 15:22-34: For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day– yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God– I say this to your shame. ( NIV)

SERMON SERIES

IMPERISHABLE: FINDING THE THINGS THAT MATTER


LOVE


5/31/2020

We begin a new sermon series this week entitled, “Imperishable: Finding the Things that Matter.”  What does truly matter in our lives?  What will endure?  As we have gone through the pandemic, it has shown us the fragile nature of our lives.  We depend upon supply chains and manufacturing processes and when these things break down, what can we trust? The first sermon in this series is “Love.” This is not only a basic human emotion or a need, but it is also an action.  We have seen first responders, medical professionals, and many other segments of our society putting themselves at risk to meet the needs of others.  Yet, after the crisis has subsided will our society genuinely change?  It is doubtful that we will be different, unless we find a stronger and more enduring love in our lives.  We turn to a classic moment in the Gospel of John 3:11-21 where Jesus is teaching Nicodemus.  The central point of this passage in John 3:16 reads, “God so loved that God gave,” but how does this help us to love?  These verses mirror our broken condition and our failure to truly love. It also shares with us the path to God’s enduring love, which will never, ever perish.  As you read these verses, may you be filled with God’s love for you!  John 3:11-21: 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven– the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


PEACE


5/24/2020

This week, we come to the end of our series, “Take Courage.”  However, this will not end our opportunities to be of good cheer, because God’s promises, provision, and power are all available to us!   God’s promises, provision, and power become available to us through prayer, and these things help us see a greater purpose for our lives.  All of these things lead us to the last sermon of this series, “Peace.”  The last few months have been filled with unrest, confusion, suffering, and even death!  Sadly, the pandemic is not over, and we still have months of social distancing ahead of us!  We are in need of peace, but unfortunately it is difficult to find in the distress, division, and despair that is around all of us.   In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses this word, “take courage” only once.  In John 16:24-33, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death and resurrection, but they are struggling to understand.  He tells them that they will have grief and trouble, yet he will give them the gift of joy and peace!  These words help us connect to a peace that is beyond our understanding, that can give us courage during difficult times.  As you read John 16:24-33, we pray that you will be filled with the peace of Christ because Jesus has conquered the troubles of this world!  John 16: 24-33: Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. 25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” 29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” 31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


Greater purpose


5/17/2020

Our sermon series, “Take Courage” continues this week with the sermon, “Greater Purpose.”  When we find a defining purpose, it is always a source of strength and courage.  A sense of purpose gives us a foundation for our lives which enables us to negotiate difficult times.  The COVID-19 pandemic causes us to wonder the “why” of our reality, or to ask the basic question, “What does all of this mean?”  Finding a greater purpose helps us to understand some of the “why,” but it also helps us to trust that we can manage the future, even if the future is very uncertain! This week, we turn to Mark 10:42-52, where Jesus encounters a blind man who is determined to get Jesus’s attention and be healed.  Yet, Mark connects this event to the teachings of Jesus that the greatest person must be the servant of all.  The healing of this blind beggar teaches us about God’s purpose for us and how it can help us to truly see what is important!  As you read Mark 10:42-52, may you find the firm foundation of God’s care for your life!  Mark 10:42-52: 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


COURAGEOUS PRAYER


5/10/2020

We continue our sermon series, “Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer” with the sermon, “Courageous Prayer.”  In difficult times, prayer becomes a hard task because we cannot always see its effectiveness.  We have become people of the moment, of Instagram, and of instant gratification.  Prayer is difficult, because it requires focus, concentration, and patience.  It calls upon us to invest our time and energy now with the possibility of a future benefit.  Prayer is important as we begin to manage our fear of the future.  There is still a lot of uncertainty as our society seeks to “open” from the quarantine of the last eight weeks.  We know the world has changed and we need to pray courageously in order to confront and overcome our fear of the future.    We turn to Matthew 9:15-22.  This entire chapter is filled with people who are in desperate circumstances and they are taking the risk to come to Jesus.  This chapter begins with the word, “take courage” and we see how Jesus is able to encourage people simply by their willingness to ask for help and believe.  These verses help us see the power of taking the risk to admit that we need help, especially in our most desperate moments!  We pray that you receive courage and hope, as you read Matthew 9:15-22.  Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” 18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


GOD’S PROMISE


5/3/2020

“Take Courage” is our sermon series.  It also means to “be of good cheer.”  We all realize, with this pandemic, that many things have changed.  Some industries are straining to meet demand, others are being pushed to the brink of collapse.  Some treatment methods for the COVID-19, which seemed promising, are not offering the benefits that everyone had hoped.  Our government is having to make decisions on a constantly changing environment.  Jobs, livelihoods, even human lives hang in the balance as we confront the future.  What will we trust as we move out of isolation and into a social world? Masks? Hand sanitizer? The news?  This question haunts us.  What can we trust?  One of our national motto’s is, “In God We Trust.”  This motto has never been any truer than today!  In the sermon, “God’s Promise,” we turn to Zephaniah 3:12-20 where God’s people are told to “take courage,” because the Lord God was with them, a Mighty Warrior, to save them!  Even though God had been disgusted with the deceitful actions of his people and their willingness to mistreat each other, God was determined to be faithful to his promise to them.  Perhaps, this is the only thing we can trust, God’s promise! How can we cling to God’s promise in the middle of this pandemic?  Zephaniah gives us some solid advice amid the uncertainty that is all around us.  As you read Zephaniah 3:12-20, may you be filled with the power and presence of God’s joy over you!  Zephaniah 3:12-20 But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the LORD. 13 They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” 14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” 18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you. 19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.  (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


GOD PROVIDES


4/26/2020

We continue to look at a singular word in ancient Greek that is translated into the title of our sermon series, “Take Courage.”  This Greek word often occurs before a miraculous event.  Last week, it was used just before the parting of the Red Sea.  This week, our Scripture from 1 Kings 17:9-16 contains a miracle, but in comparison to last week’s, it is a small, undramatic one.  However, it is still very powerful for the people involved.  It is the miracle of God’s provision for the prophet Elijah, as well as a widow and her son.  The widow has to take a courageous risk in order to trust God.  We all struggle to trust that God will provide, especially during these times of economic downturn and shortages.  Yet, this word is for us and it is alive!  This simple instance helps us to find the path to trust our living God to provide for our needs.  As you read 1 Kings 17: 9-16, may your heart be filled with the power and presence of God who will provide for you!  1 Kings 17: 9-16: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread– only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it– and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer


GOD’S POWER


4/19/2020

Our after Easter sermon series is, “Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer!”  It is an important time for us to take stock of our resources.  Not just paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, milk, eggs, and butter you may have in the pantry, but of the emotional and spiritual strengths that will help us to thrive as we go through the uncertain days ahead.  Despair and discouragement are always trying to track us down, as they did God’s people long ago.  We are tracking a single word through the pages of scripture, which means to “take courage” or “be of good cheer.” One of the first instances of this word is found in Exodus 14: 10-16.  This is a dramatic moment that you may have learned in Sunday school.  It is the miracle of God parting the Red Sea and the people of God crossing upon dry ground to escape Pharaoh’s army.  In the sermon “God’s Power,“ we realize that Moses’ words are not just for those who has escaped Egypt, but they hold a great lesson for us today!  May you be filled with the light of God’s power and peace as you read Exodus 14:10-16: As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (NIV)

HOLY WEEK

EASTER SUNDAY


i believe in the resurrection


4/12/2020

Happy Easter!  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Our Easter sermon I, “I Believe in the Resurrection.” It is this simple affirmation that separates the Christian faith from any other!  We believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and with him we will be raised too.  Jesus has conquered death forever.  This is a poignant Easter with the impact of the COVID-19 virus.  There has been so much suffering and death.  We turn to the Gospel of Matthew 28:8-20 for our scripture.  The women are greeted at the tomb by an angel who tells them that Jesus is not there, but he has risen from death.  The angel instructs them to go and tell his disciples.  As they leave the tomb, they encounter the risen Lord.  This encounter with Jesus helped them to overcome fear and find joy!  We learn that this simple affirmation, “I believe,” leads to strength and hope for all of our lives.  As you read Matthew 28:8-20, we pray that the joy of Easter and the hope of the resurrection will fill your heart!  Matthew 28:8-20: 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” 11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

HOLY WEEK

GOOD FRIDAY


good friday


4/10/2020


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HOLY WEEK

MAUNDY THURSDAY


maundy thursday


4/9/2020

SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


Pivotal Circumstances


4/5/2020

This week, we complete our series, Growing Faith, with the sermon, Pivotal Circumstances. We are seeing pivotal circumstances at work in the world around us! We watch each day as the Corona virus wreaks more havoc, especially here in the US, but how is God at work? This week, we turn to a section of Romans that has the often quoted scripture of Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. How are we to understand this? As encouraging as this is, we have to wonder, what good can come out of this? Ultimately, God wants to grow our faith into a bigger faith. Circumstances such as these create a great opportunity for growth, especially if we look at the entire section of Romans 8:26-32. We continue to pray for all of you, and we hope that you sense God’s strength during this time of crisis. As you read this passage, may the Holy Spirit give you hope and joy! Romans 8:26-32: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


Personal Ministry


3/29/2020

It is easy during this time of isolation and fear to allow the darkness of despair to get the best of us.  It seems there is only bad news, and we struggle to see how God is at work and helping us in these times.  If we are not careful, we will see everything through a lens of despair, rather than hope!  This is why we need this series, “Growing Faith.  We need a bigger faith in order to find peace, hope, joy, and love during difficult times.  In this week’s sermon, we turn to the power of “Personal Ministry.”  We are called to bring the presence of Jesus to the world around us.  Yet, as we struggle with our circumstances, it is hard to find the energy to care for others.  In Matthew 14:23-33, there is a dramatic and difficult moment for the disciples, but Jesus comes to them while walking on the water.  It is easy to get caught up in this miracle and miss the lesson that Jesus wanted to teach his disciples and Peter.  It helps us to find the strength to minister others under difficult circumstances.  As you read Matthew 14:22-33, may the presence of Christ come to you to give you courage and hope! Matthew 14: 23-33: After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


Confronting Worry


3/22/2020

We continue our Lent series, “Growing Faith” with the sermon “Confronting Worry.”  All of us have had an increased level of anxiety during the recent weeks.  There is a lot of information, but some of it is contradictory and confusing!  The fear of not getting what we need is at an all-time high.  Many people are arming themselves.  Let’s put a pause on the panic by listening to some of the most reassuring words ever spoken in Matthew 6:24-34.  Jesus speaks to a crowd who lived on basic wages day to day.  They lived on the edge of existence, paycheck to paycheck, but Jesus tells them not to worry!  How can they not be worried?  We are living on a thin edge of anxiety and fear.  How can we hear these simple words of, “Don’t worry!”? Worry is based upon whom and what we trust.  Jesus points us to a big faith that trusts God for our lives.  Matthew 6:24-34 is the culmination of chapter 6.  In this chapter, there are several private disciplines that we can use which pull the plug on panic and find a deep rest for our souls.  As you read Matthew 6:24-34, it is our prayer that your heart will sense God’s care and closeness!  Matthew 6:24-34 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you– you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


Providential Relationships


3/15/2020

These are difficult times with the spread of this virus.  Fear seems like it is in control, rather than the voices of assurance and hope.  We need a faith that is growing faster than our fear!  In the series, Growing Faith we are taking a look at Providential Relationships.  Providence is the trust that God has a plan and that God’s making all things work together to bring us into a relationship with Him.  God’s providence is the source of us building our trust in God’s care! Through the providence of God, we see the plan fitting together.   We return to Hebrews 10.  Remember that these people were struggling to trust God due to their difficult circumstances.  In Hebrews 10:15-25, the writer says that God had been at work for centuries to create a new and living way for us to come into God’s presence.  The realization of this plan should cause us to respond to God and others in a different way.  As you read Hebrews 10:15-25, may the fear of our current circumstances be transformed into the assurance that God will care for us! Hebrews 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


Practical Biblical Teaching


3/8/2020

We continue our Lenten series, Growing Faith with Andy Stanley’s first point of Practical Biblical Teaching.  Every Christian struggles to connect knowledge and action, or to put it another way to “walk the walk.”  Through the all the scriptures, this is a grand problem in our relationship with God.  We are saved by grace, but we are in danger of ignoring the “good works” God has prepared for us to do.  The other extreme is that we become legalistic and we define salvation by doing a set of works.  As long as we color between the lines, then everything is good with God!  God wants us to take obedience seriously so that we do not become “actors” of faith (hypocritical) or raging legalist (Pharisees).  This is obedience based upon being loved by God and wanting to love God in return.  In Matthew 7, at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses an amazing illustration of the wise and foolish builders.  It is a simple story with a very direct meaning.  The storms impact both the wise and the foolish, but the conclusion of each house is dramatically different.  How do we begin to walk this tightrope of trusting God and not find our house collapsing around us?  This simple story is instructive, especially if we look at the rest of Matthew 7.  As you read these verses, you may sense the waters rising at your doorstep, or the wind howling at your door, but be comforted!  The Rock of Salvation, Jesus Christ, will hold in the most desperate storm!  Matthew 7:24-29: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

GROWING FAITH


BIG FAITH


3/1/2020

We have started the season of Lent and our goal is to increase of the light of Jesus Christ in our lives!  We are using Andy’s Stanley’s study, Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith in our small groups to help us increase the spiritual light of our lives.  The Lent sermon series is based upon this study and it is entitled, Growing Faith.  Our first sermon in this series is Big Faith.  Jesus uses a picture of faith in the New Testament.  He likens it to a “mustard seed” which is very small, but grows into a large tree (Matthew 13:31, Matthew 17:20).  Our faith is always in a growth curve, but it helps if we do things which will cultivate a strong and vital faith.  In this first sermon, we turn to a group of early Christians whose trust in God was being challenged by their circumstances.  In Hebrews 10:32-11:2, we see the back story of the great “faith” chapter of this letter to those struggling Christians.  It gives them and us some foundational guidance to find a faith greater than the problems of our time!  As you read these words, let the Holy Spirit give you an assurance that greater is the power in you than in the world.  Hebrews 10:32-11:2: Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

UNCONDITIONAL


CONFIDENCE


2/23/2020

In conditional human love, one of the problems we experience is confidence!  How can we be sure that someone loves us?  How do we trust them enough to have a relationship?  Human love is filled with betrayal, failure, and uncertainty.  We see it every day!  In our sermon series, Unconditional, the sermon is Confidence.  If we cannot trust the love of those around us, then how can we know and trust God’s love for us?  This is the question the Apostle John is answering in 1 John 4:11-19.  He reminds us if we are truly loved, and we are convinced of this, then fear is not an option!  He wants us to know the basic and powerful indicators of this love that give us the confidence to “kick fear to the curb!”  Your love life may be a trail of broken tears, but as you read these words, may you be filled with the undeniable assurance that you are loved forever!  1 John 4:11-19:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

UNCONDITIONAL


CHOICES


2/16/2020

Our sermon series Unconditional continues with the sermon, Choices.  Our lives are filled with choices!  No one can deny the power of choice.   We often think of life’s big choices such as marriage, career, or buying a home, but there is also great power in the smaller choices.  Our smaller choices accumulate to determine the quality of our lives.  We cannot avoid this.  Our decision not to decide is still a choice that will have consequences!  Choosing to accept God’s unconditional love is an important choice because according to 1 John 3:1-9, this is a “lavish” love that adopts us into God’s family.  If we neglect to choose this option, we are on a path to destruction rather than new life.  In order to truly discover the power of this new life and the depth of this unconditional love, we need to understand what it means to be God’s child and how this alters our lives.  As you read 1 John 3:1-9, it is our prayer that you sense this “lavish” love and that it gives strength and confidence to your life! 1 John 3:1-9: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.


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SERMON SERIES

UNCONDITIONAL


COMPETING


2/9/2020

We continue our series Unconditional with the sermon Competing.  Why is loving someone as Jesus loved us so difficult?  It seems that with all of our progress in modern society we would not struggle to love each other.  Yet, as we look at our world, anger and hatred seem to be stronger than ever.  In 1 John 2:9-17, John the Apostle is writing to the early Christians about the competing forces that lead us away from loving others more fully.  Hatred of a brother, sister or neighbor is a blinding darkness that will lead us to a pit!  What will help us find the light?  These verses from 1 John help us to find the strong light of unconditional love.  John guides us to shed the darkness of hatred and walk in the path of Jesus.  As you read 1 John 2:9-17 may you sense the darkness passing way and the light of God’s love flooding your heart.  1 John 2:9-17: Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

UNCONDITIONAL


CONNECT


2/2/2020

We begin a new series this week, entitled, Unconditional. This month, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day which is a celebration of human love. Americans are estimated to spend 19.6 billion dollars on this day for cards, flowers, and other gifts! All of us want to be loved because it has a powerful impact upon our hearts and lives. Human love often comes with conditions, like buying a gift for Valentine’s Day! God loves us completely with no strings attached. This unconditional love holds great power for our lives! Our struggle is to fully comprehend the power of this love. In this week’s sermon, Connect, we turn to John 15:7-17. Jesus is the source of this unconditional love and these words help us let this love flow through our lives! As you read John 15: 7-17, we pray that you sense the complete and full love of God! John 15:7-17: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit– fruit that will last– and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John. 15:7-17 NIV


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SERMON SERIES

Lamp for our Feet, Light for our Path


Seeking


1/26/2020

Have you ever tried to find something in the dark?  Most all of us have had that desperate moment in which we have lost something so important, so valuable, that we were compelled to search for it in the dark!  However, as we search our desperation gives way to despair!  It seems that there is a desperate search in the world around us, but it is in darkness.   We can see the hopelessness that people experience when they do not find the meaning or purpose that makes life vibrant.  In the sermon series, Lamp for Our Feet, Light for Our Path we turn to Isaiah 55:6-13.  In the sermon, Seeking, this Word of the Lord from Isaiah gives us direction for overcoming the darkness of our desperate search to find an enduring light of joy!  What are you seeking today?  Find the meaning and joy that can truly lift your heart as you read Isaiah 55:6-13: Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

Lamp for our Feet, Light for our Path


Seed


1/19/2020

As we continue our series Lamp for Our Feet, Light for Our Path, we come to 1 Peter 1:22-25 and find the “Seed” that causes us to be born again. This seed, the word of God, is imperishable, living, and eternal. Once it is planted in our lives, it continues to grow and produce fruit. The fruit of God’s word in our lives is drastically different than the fruit and glory that comes from our own flesh: it is sincere, earnest, and pure love for one another. It is love that we cannot produce or show other people in our own strength. It is love that is self-sacrificial. It is love that can only be found in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who comes into our lives when we believe in him. As you read these verses, remember that the love God has planted in our hearts lasts forever because it comes from Himself. 1 Peter 1:22-25: Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

Lamp for our Feet, Light for our Path


Sabbath


1/12/2020

Happy New Year!  We continue with our series Lamp for Our Feet, Light for Our Path with the sermon, Sabbath. Sabbath is a rare word for “our world.”  God modeled sabbath by resting on the seventh day of creation.  Jesus helps us understand this example by saying, “Sabbath was created for man….” (Mark 2:27) In other words, God knew humanity would need cycles of rest and worship.  Many of us do not get enough rest, or find a sense of rest in our lives!  Both are important.  If we do not find “rest for our souls” then it will be harder for our bodies to rest as well.  In Hebrews 4:9-16, the writer says that if we are not careful, we will miss God’s rest through our stubbornness and mistrust!  Sabbath is not just a day, but it is an active living reality found in God’s Word.  These verses help us to find a deeper rest that will brighten our path and guide our feet to a better relationship with God! As you read these words, let your heart rest in God’s promise of grace!  Hebrews 4:9-16: There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.  For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV) 


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SERMON SERIES

Lamp for our Feet, Light for our Path


Surety


1/5/2020

Happy New Year! We begin 2020 with a new sermon series and a new emphasis for the coming year. In 2019 we focused on prayer and now we want to couple prayer with reading the Word of God. Our series is “Lamp for our Feet, Light for our Path” and this will be the theme for 2020. Our goal is to listen to God’s voice in scripture, to brighten the road before us, and to lighten the load upon us. Our first sermon of 2020 is “Surety.” It is a great place to begin because each year comes with its own uncertainty. One way to deal with the uncertainty of a new beginning is to realize the security of those things we can depend upon! The theme for this year comes from Psalm 119: 105-112. King David realized that the light of God’s Word was a foundation to his life. These verses help us to realize how we can strengthen this foundation in our own lives as we start this year. As you read this part of Psalm 119, let the light of God’s Word to strengthen you and guide you to God’s peace. Psalm 119:105-112: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. 106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. 107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, LORD, according to your word. 108 Accept, LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. 109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. 110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. 111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. 112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer


WOUNDED?


12/29/2019

Happy New Year!  We are on the verge of 2020, a brand-new decade! However, we are still finishing our Christmas sermon series, Don’t Get Run Over by The Reindeer.  Even though the presents are done, you still may be dealing with the problems of “holiday let down.”  Or, if your celebration did not go so well, you may be recovering from the aftermath!  Either way, this sermon will help you recover.  In the sermon, Wounded? we turn to Isaiah 61:1-7.   The people of God were struggling with the darkness of their society and their individual lives.  They are broken, but this is not the last word for any of them or for us!  Jesus uses part of this passage as a commission for his own ministry on earth, because it is a vision of redemption.  As you read Isaiah 61:1-7, allow the Spirit of the Living God to lift you into his care and guide you into the coming year. Isaiah 61:1-7: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer


WEARY?


12/22/2019

Merry Christmas!  We are just one Sunday away from Christmas Day!  It has passed quickly and you may be reeling from the hoof prints on your back, or you may just be tired.  In our sermon series “Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer,” we turn to a common problem for this time of year.  It is in the form of a question, “Weary?”  Weariness can be exhaustion, but it can also be expressed with cynicism, frustration, anger, or apathy.  We underestimate the power of weariness. But God doesn’t!  We turn to Isaiah 40:1-11, which becomes part of the Christmas celebration due to Handel’s Messiah.  The Messiah begins with the words from Isaiah 40.  We realize, though, that these words are for everyone who is weary, frustrated, exhausted, or afraid.  They are an antidote to apathy and cynicism, because things are about to change for the better!  No longer will it be business as usual!  As you come to this Christmas, let the Word of the Lord from Isaiah 40:1-11 refresh your heart that a good and powerful change is coming! Isaiah 40:1-11:  Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (NIV)

SERMON SERIES

Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer


Where is it?


12/15/2019

Merry Christmas!  Christmas Day is only 12 days away!  In our Christmas season, the sermon series is Don’t get run over by the Reindeer!  This week, our sermon is Where it is?  It seems that we are always looking for the right gift, the right decoration, or the right time.  Yet, as we go through this season with all the activity and gifts, we find ourselves empty and frustrated, rather than excited and relaxed. This week, we turn to Isaiah 11:1-10.  It is a vision of God’s Peaceable Kingdom.  It communicates a fullness that comes from a place of brokenness and heartache.  From a burned-out stump, a branch will grow and a flower will blossom. This is a part of the Christmas story because Jesus is the branch that will bring a wonderful rest to the striving of humanity.  But how? This vision of the coming Peaceable Kingdom helps us in 2019 to find the peace, joy, and hope that we are looking for!  As you read Isaiah 11:1-10, may you find God’s presence lifting up your heart! Isaiah 11:1-10 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD– 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer


WAIT FOR IT


12/8/2019

It is our hope that you are finding the joy and meaning of this Christmas season.  In our sermon series, “Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer” the sermon is “Wait for it!”  We struggle during this season with waiting!  It seems we are waiting in line, waiting in the drive through, or waiting for the family plan for Christmas and the lists seems to be endless!  But what are we really waiting for?  All of our waiting during this season just increases our frustration and despair.  One of the major problems during this time of year is “holiday blues” caused by stress and anxiety.  It is seems we are waiting for all the wrong things!  In Isaiah 9:1-7, the people were focused upon all the darkness of problems, uncertainties, and fear.  God is never content for darkness to reign, whether during the time of Isaiah or today.  These verses help us realize that the light of Christ can dispel the deepest darkness. If you are walking in darkness today, hear the words of God from Isaiah!  Wait for this light, it’s coming for you!  Isaiah 9:1-7: Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan– 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (NIV)

 


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SERMON SERIES

Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer


WATCH OUT


12/1/2019

Merry Christmas!  We are now through Thanksgiving and the race toward Christmas has begun!  Our Christmas series is: Don’t Get Run Over by the Reindeer!  Between the events, crowds, shopping (even online), and planning for extended family gatherings, this time of year can become overwhelming.  The holidays create their own level of stress and even fear.  The fear of uncertainty, the fear of being alone, and the fear of past experiences are some of the things with which people struggle.  It is easy to forget that this season was intended to give us greater peace, more hope, eternal joy, and an unconditional love.  Our first sermon in this series is a warning: Watch Out!  Our scripture is from Isaiah 7:4-14.  King Ahaz was the king of Judah, or what is often called the “southern kingdom”. In this historical moment he received word that the northern kingdom, also called “Israel” or “Ephraim”, had made an alliance with Aram (or present-day Syria) to take over Jerusalem.  If they were successful, Ahaz would be removed as the king or even killed.  He and the people of Jerusalem were terrified!  Into this moment came God’s living Word through the prophet Isaiah.  God was not going to allow this evil plan to succeed, but Ahaz struggled to believe!  The Lord told this fearful king: “If your faith is not strong, you will not have strength enough to last.” Isaiah 7:9 (NCV).  This question is just as important today. The strength of faith enables our lives to find a marvelous strength even in the face of great obstacles! As you read Isaiah 7:4-14, believe that God will care for you as God did during the time of King Ahaz. Let these words strengthen your faith in our Savoir who was born of a virgin to fulfill this Word from Isaiah.  Isaiah 7:4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood– because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘It will not take place, it will not happen, 8 for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. 9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’” 10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.” 13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

My Cup Overflows


POSSIBILITIES


11/24/2019

We come to the end of our series My Cup Overflows with this week’s sermon, Possibilities.  We are constantly being drained of goodness and generosity, but what will refill our hearts and lives.  The possibilities are greater for people who have an overflowing cup because they live happier and longer lives!  They find strength and meaning which enables them to overcome the obstacles they confront.  As we come to this Thanksgiving Day what will fill your cup to overflowing.  Luke 6:31-39 helps us to find the fullness of a generous spirit.  These are the words of Jesus from Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain.  It begins with the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you desire them to do for you.”  To follow this rule is not only a challenge, but at times it seems like an impossibility.    Yet, if we listen to these words of Jesus, there is a far greater potential for a fullness in our lives that nothing in this world can take away!  It is our prayer that you sense this fullness as you read Luke 6:31-39.  Luke 6:31-39: Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

My Cup Overflows


Purpose


11/17/2019

We continue our series My Cup Overflows as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day.  Over the past two weeks, we have looked at Provision and how God provides for us.  We have considered God’s Plan and how we fit in it.  This week, we turn to Purpose.  What in the world are we here for?  This is a great question and one which our society is asking.  There is a growing emptiness that drains our spirits.  There is no defining purpose except to get what we can while we are here!  We try to fill a void, only to find ourselves in greater despair.  When we have a defining purpose, we feel better about life and we make better choices.  Purpose allows us to discern a fullness in our lives because it fills us with meaning. In Psalm 116:7-19 King David was in the depth of despair; possibly facing death itself. Yet he was able to hang on to trust and hope in God and it was transformative for his life.  He realized a great lesson about God’s power being able to refill our cups, even in the most desperate moments!  The lessons he learned are still transformative for us!  As you read these words, may your cup be refilled to overflowing! Psalm 116:7-19: 7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. 8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I trusted in the LORD when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. 16 Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. 17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the LORD– in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

My Cup Overflows


God has a plan . . . and we are in it!


11/10/2019

We continue our series My Cup Overflows with the sermon God has a Plan and You are in It!  Some people see life as a random series of events without any rhyme or reason.  One of the sources of despair in our time is a failure to see how our lives fit into a broader scheme.  This leaves us without any sense of purpose, nor do we find any substantive meaning.  Even as Christians there are times that all the pieces of the puzzle do not fit, and we are left with jagged edges of hurt.  We wonder where God is.  Why has this happened?  What is God’s plan?  Does God care?  These are ancient but very timely questions!  God does have a plan, and more importantly God has a plan particularly for you!  God wants to fill the void of existence with hope and purpose.  These Scriptures my seem to be random, but they lead us to a path of God’s eternal plan.  As you read these words, may you find the comfort and hope of God’s plan for you! Romans 15:4: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance, and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”  Jeremiah 31:35 -36: If the created order should vanish from my sight’, declares the LORD, ‘only then would Israel’s descendants ever stop being a nation before me.’ The LORD proclaims: ‘If the heavens above could be measured and the foundation of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject Israel’s descendants for what they have done’, declares the LORD.


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SERMON SERIES

My Cup Overflows


Provision


11/03/2019

As we begin the month of November, we start a new sermon series: “My Cup Overflows.” This phrase is taken from one of the most famous and beloved chapters in the Bible, Psalm 23, a passage that beautifully captures God’s care and provision for us. We often feel like sheep: lost, afraid, and clueless. However, with God as our Shepherd, we no longer lack protection, provision, and rest. We no longer lack deliverance from our enemies, comfort in trials, and rest when weary. We have those things because we have Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd. And not only do we have them, we have them abundantly, so that our “cups are overflowing!” As you read this Psalm, reflect on the abundant blessings God has poured out in your life. Psalm 23: 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

How to Hug a Vampire- LOVING THE PEOPLE WHO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF US


COMPASSION


10/27/2019

 We complete our series on How to Hug a Vampire-Loving the People who Suck the Life out of Us, with the sermon, Compassion.  All of us struggle with “compassion fatigue” and at times, we are afraid to care for others because it is so exhausting!  Or we find ourselves in a death grip of hugging someone who makes us feel guilty if we do not fix everything for them.  What are we to do?  In Luke 10, Jesus encounters a religious scholar who tries to trap him in an argument, but Jesus instead turns the tables and puts the scholar on the defensive.  In the scholar’s effort to justify his own behavior, he asks a question that we still ask today, “Who is my neighbor anyway?”  Jesus responds with the timeless story of the Good Samaritan.  This simple parable is able to help guide us to appropriate but powerful compassion.  As you read Luke 10:27-37, let God’s compassion and love fill your heart!  Luke 10:27-37: He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

How to Hug a Vampire- LOVING THE PEOPLE WHO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF US


COMMITMENTs


10/20/2019

We continue with our series, How to Hug a Vampire-Loving the People who Suck the Life Out of Us.   So far, we have learned that God wants us to love others (Clarity), but we cannot take God’s place (Confession)!  We need to follow God’s boundaries in our lives.  This week’s sermon is Commitments.  Managing our commitments is one of the great struggles in life.  All of us have to learn how to juggle various things and it can be exhausting!  Does God even care about all the things we have to do?  Trying to love others amid all the other things, just seems to drive us down rather than give us hope.  This week, we turn to Hebrews 13:8-16.  Some of these Christians were on the verge of giving up.  They were enduring persecution and wondering where would they find help.  This passage shares with them the path to find a fountain of strength, even in great adversity.  The secret is found in choosing the right commitments in our lives!  As you read Hebrews 13:8-16, realize that God is able to fill our hearts, even when all hope seems lost! Hebrews 13:8-16:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise– the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

How to Hug a Vampire- LOVING THE PEOPLE WHO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF US


CONFESSION


10/13/2019

We continue this week with How to Hug a Vampire-Loving the People Who Suck the Life out of Us with the sermon, Confession.  We determined last week that we cannot simply cut people out of our lives, except when we realize that we do not have the spiritual maturity to truly love the person who is sucking the life out of us!  We are called to be servants of a living God who asks us to share a genuine love for others.  This week, we turn to Psalm 139:1-14.  These verses are filled with realizations of God’s power that is at work from the moment we begin our lives.  King David’s words also, help us to realize that we are limited creatures. Despite our limitations, God’s strength and ability are available to help us find the abundant life that God wants for us. As you read Psalm 139:1-14, allow the Holy Spirit to fill your cup to overflowing with the goodness and greatness of God! Psalm 139:1-14 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)


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SERMON SERIES

How to Hug a Vampire- LOVING THE PEOPLE WHO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF US


CLARITY


10/06/2019

This week, we begin a new series: How to Hug A Vampire-Loving the People Who Suck the Life Out of Us.  All of us have relationships that have a tendency to drain our goodness, grace, and generosity.  Sometimes it is the people at work or that we randomly encounter, but it can even be within our families!  Certainly, one solution is to completely cut this person from our lives, but is this what Christ wants us to do?  Maybe…maybe not!  This is precisely the problem and confusion with these relationships.  Yet, if our spirit is filled with anger and we are drained of any goodness toward this person, it generally doesn’t end well!  How do we counter the toxic nature of the world?  We are not the first Christians to confront this problem! James the Apostle writes a letter to all of the Christians of his time because they had become so toxic in their behavior!  How he begins this letter gives us the title of the first sermon: Clarity.  James 1:1-8 is trying to create a clarity for these struggling Christians to help them find the strength to love others!   As you read these words, let the Holy Spirit show you the path to wholeness and fullness in your life to overcome the drain of our toxic world! James 1:1-8: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (NIV)

 


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