SERMON SERIES:

Standing firm and loving well

02/18/2024

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We are now in the season of Lent. The ancient wisdom of this season is to increase the light of Christ within our hearts and lives. It is to move out of the darkness of our sins into the light of forgiveness. It calls us to prepare our spirits for the power of resurrection by recognizing the whitewashed tomb of our self-righteousness. Lent is filled with wisdom but where is the hope of this season? Our process of lengthening the light of Christ and leaving our whitewashed tomb is a small group study by Chris Hodges entitled The Daniel Dilemma: Standing Firm and Loving Well in a Culture of Compromise. We hope you can join us for the study, even if you cannot do it in a small group. You can do it as a family or as an individual. This is a great way to walk in the light of Christ. Our sermon series which is based on this study is titled, Standing Firm and Loving Well. We do have to make a choice in order to stand firm. Either we will stand firm or we will be drawn into the sinking sand of our culture. None of us want to live our lives sinking into despair, anger, hatred, confusion, chaos, or chained to a host of other destructive emotions, but we see it every day. God wants something different for our lives. Our scripture for this first week is John 17:13-23, which is part of the prayer of Jesus for his disciples. Jesus realizes that the clash with the Jewish leadership has reached a crisis and this will eventually lead him to the cross. He prays specifically for them to stand firm and love well as they are about to experience trauma and turmoil. Our first sermon in this series is Pray, building upon Jesus’s prayer for his disciples and all of us. Chris Hodges uses the words of Jesus to encourage us to pray for three things that will help us to stand firm and love well. Ultimately, we cannot survive against the schemes of the evil one, we are not smart enough, or strong enough. Satan knows the one seduction that is our weakness. Our only defense is to take this prayer of Jesus seriously and let it be our strong shield and fortress. We pray that you will find the solid rock of our Savior who will keep your feet from slipping, your heart from being overwhelmed, and who will lift you from the sinking sand into the strength of his arms as you read John 17:13-23.

 

John 17:13-23 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one– 23 I in them and you in me– so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (NIV)