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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Counter-Intuitive Christianity: Guided by New Heart

 David led a fascinating life. God used him in powerful ways. As shepherd, David protected the flock from outside threats and put his life on the line to do so. As a make-shift soldier, David went into battle armed with only a sling, a few stones, and his faith in God.  As king, David let the people of God into battles against the enemies of God and against foreign idols.

Of all of these ways God used David, it could be said that David’s failures and repentance is the most powerful. David expressed his sorrow and repentance in deep prayers and sincere confessions that we find in the book of the Psalms.

David knew his failures came from within. It was his own sinful heart and his own ungodly desires that led him to sin first by nurturing a relationship born outside of God’s desire for a healthy marriage and further sinned through deceit, corruption of his office, and ultimately murder though his orders as Israel’s leader. David’s relationship to a person he wasn’t married to in the sight of God and his attempts to cover up this fact led to David to heap sin upon sin as he ran from the simple truth that God had a plan for his life and he wasn’t following it.

David was eventually confronted by the prophet of God. Facing the reality of his sins, David would go on to write these words in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ezekiel records a similar sentiment in Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

David knew his failures came from within.

The solution: to replace the sinful heart with a new, pure heart. Jesus gives hope. Jesus redeems us with His blood. Jesus promises us His transforming, renewing grace when we believe in Him, trust in Him, and act on those beliefs about Jesus to submit our lives to Him. We too cry out like David did: “Jesus, wash our sins away and make us clean!”

More than that: “Give us a new heart that we can always be guided by your will for us and your desires.”

This morning, we’ll look at a few other passages that describe the heart and challenge us to be led not by our own sinful nature but to be transformed into humble followers of God and His will.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Uncomplicated Redemption

 Jesus challenges us in many ways.

His example of love and humility is inspiring and downright embarrassing. When I consider how much was given up and how much I’ve again, it’s truly an embarrassment of riches He has lavished upon us. To think that the debt that I’ve owed, the sins that I’ve committed, the separation from the Father I’ve pursued in the worship of self and idolatry can all be wiped out by the love of Jesus: “my cup overflows!” (Psalms 23:5).

His example of love and humility is one that I want to follow. I know how much I’ve been blessed by the Christians in my life. I know how much Christian love has changed the hearts and minds of those lost in sin, in such a way that a transformed life results in peace and kindness. I’ve seen people replace any number of vices with the love of Christ and know their Spiritual and eternal life is so much for the better because of it. Jesus brought people joy because in Him they could experience relief, forgiveness, and renewal.

His example of love and humility is one that I fail to fully embody like He did. Jesus’s love for people led Him to take action. Jesus loved people when it was hard. Jesus loved people it seemed no one else would. Jesus took the extra steps, went the extra miles, and even gave His life to show others His love. He forgave those that insulted Him, judged Him, and hurt Him. He still cared for those that mistreated Him and even those that sent Him to His death. Jesus willingly submitted, sacrificed Himself so that we could be forgiven. That’s love.

Jesus challenges us to love in ways that make us uncomfortable, to forgive those we hesitate to forgive, and to honor those we struggle to see as honorable. His example of love and humility leaves me speechless, but not hopeless. The challenge before us is in carrying on His mission and extending love, mercy, compassion, and the Gospel to all.

How has the Gospel changed you?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Matthew 10: Moving On, Spreading the Gospel

This morning, we'll be worshipping together from our homes due to the inclement weather. In the link below you will find a YouTube Playlist which will include a few songs before and after the sermon. Looking forward to the time when we can all be together again!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Soak in the Psalms: Psalm 73 -- Influence

Hope you can join us for a Mid-Week Bible Study!

This week, we will review Psalm 73 and discuss the challenges of influencing others while staying close to God and avoiding the influence of others.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Nehemiah and the Need for Continual Renewal

This week, we will wrap up our focus on the book of Nehemiah but we must never lose our focus on renewal. Throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we see a people that have overcome their oppression by a foreign and hostile government only through the graces of the Almighty God. Out of His love and compassion for them, they were taken into captivity to learn and to grow in their faith and practice. Their discipline remains for us to learn from but let us not think that we too would not also be subject to discipline.

Hebrews 12 reminds us, “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” In fact, rather than thinking by virtue of being in the family of God we may avoid discipline, we should expect it: “If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children.” Therefore, discipline is something we expect, even though it’s not something we would desire! “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:11).

Discipline is required because in our imperfect walk with Christ we all stumble. We make mistakes and bad choices. We succumb to the temptations of sin and we wrestle with the old way of life as we strive to live as transformed followers of Jesus. Israel failed in their walk and then came the exile. But the exile was not the end of the story. Redemption came and the Lord returned the people to the Promised Land. So too with us, Jesus Christ is our redemption and hope for the future.

Each day, we feel the tension between living for a higher calling and living for self. Jesus tells us the best way to combat sin is to die to it: “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah show us what a grand, wide-scale, intense renewal looks like. What we’ll see this morning is that not only is there a need of wide-scale reform, but we also need changed deeply. Unfortunately, many of the changes we have read about were short-lived. The focus on renewal lasted for a season and faded. Jesus tells us that renewal must come day after day, every day, until that great day when all will be made new (Revelation 21:1-8).

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Soak in the Psalms: Psalm 34

 Starting at 6:30 tonight -- Join us for our Mid-Week Bible Study. This week we'll look at what Psalm 34 has to say Christians today and tomorrow.