June 26th – Sermon Plus+

Sermon Summary

Perhaps the most famous speech in all of human history is the one delivered by Jesus himself in Matthew 5-7. This is referred to as the sermon on the mount. Whether you’re a Christian or not, the sermon on the mount is extremely well known. This sermon begins with “The Beatitudes” which give us a picture of life in the kingdom of God. This past Sunday we considered the first of these: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

To be poor in spirit says something about our posture before God. It says something about who we understand ourselves to be in relation to the righteousness and holiness of God. It means that we are Spiritually bankrupt. When it comes to the righteousness that God requires, we’re broke. To be poor in spirit is to openly confess your Spiritual poverty before God and reject self-reliance.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven can not be understood as a legalistic demand (something we do to earn God’s favor), nor as a pie in the sky, unrealistic ideal (something that we can’t expect to experience now). It must be viewed through the lens of Jesus. The one who was rich made himself poor. The perfect model of humility. As we trust him and follow him, we then are changed by the Spirit to reflect his character.

The one who is poor in spirit can only be blessed because of the mercy and grace of Jesus, who was obedient to death on the cross, and who rose from the dead to be a king forever. May we worship this Jesus, acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy, and rely on his unceasing mercy.

Application Questions

  1. Pastor Dan spoke about legalism.  As Christians, what should we do with laws, either when we encounter God’s laws in the Old Testament, or when we encounter human laws in our society?  In the Sermon on the Mount, is Jesus proving a fresh version of God’s law?
  2. In Matthew 5:3, Jesus commends those who are “poor in spirit.”  How do we become poor in spirit?  Why is this status so desirable?
  3. In what ways is the kingdom of heaven, the favorable rule of Jesus Christ, reflected among us?

June 19th – Sermon Plus+

Sermon Summary

Big Idea: The Father has declared His Son, Jesus Christ, King of the nations.

How do you relate to the authority God has placed in your life?  Are you irritated by people who hold power over you?  What should we do with these feelings that run deep, sometimes in a hurry?  In Psalm 2, the psalmist (David) interacts with people who are very upset about authority.  David lived around 1,000 B.C. and served as king of a growing regional power in the Levant: Ancient Israel.  David cherished the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel whose divine presence dwelled in a tent.  Not only did David serve Yahweh in general ways as the king of Israel, but he also maintained a close, personal relationship with his God.  Yahweh extended to David a unique covenant by promising David an everlasting kingdom of global significance (2 Samuel 7:12-14).  David possessed a vision for the surrounding nations to know Yahweh and to worship Him (2 Samuel 22:44-46, 50-15; 1 Chronicles 16:23-25).  Psalm 2 presents the struggle of the nations as they interact with the sovereign, global authority of Yahweh the Creator God.

Psalm 2 may be divided into three scenes, like a play.  In the first scene (Psalm 2:1-3), the nations of the world are presented as the antagonist.  They are unsettled at heart, and they murmur to one another.  What are they saying?  “We know about the global authority of Israel’s Creator God, Yahweh, and we don’t want Him ruling over us.”  The Apostle Paul provides vivid description of this rebellion and of humanity’s departure from the image of God (Romans 1:18-32).  In the second scene (Psalm 2:4-9), which is set in the heavenly throne room, Yahweh is presented as the protagonist.  He ponders the earthly nations and finds their rebellion to be ill-conceived and laughable in its impossibilities.  He is moved to wrath and then speaks.  What does He have to say?  Yahweh proclaims that He has placed His King in Jerusalem.  Who is this King?  The King is Yahweh’s own Son, the Descendant of David!  Yahweh charges His Son with the responsibilities of universal reign.  “Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage.”  The Apostle Paul identifies this King as being the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul identifies the start of Jesus’ reign as being His resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:1-4; Acts 13:26-33, “today I have begotten you”).  In the third scene (Psalm 2:10-12), the psalmist warns the nations to submit to the kingly rule of Yahweh’s Son, while opportunity remains.  This Son will ultimately crush governmental structures and world rulers who persist in their rebellion against Him (2 Thess. 1:5-10).  The Apostle Paul develops the idea of warning the nations when he describes the grace and responsibility of proclaiming the gospel (Romans 1:5; Ephesians 3:8-12).

How should we apply the truth of Psalm 2?  The Father has declared His Son, Jesus Christ, to be King of the nations.  Jesus is sovereign.  Submit to His rule!  Honor the authorities God has appointed for you, as unto Christ (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 4:14-16).  Join psalmist’s vision for the nations by urging your local communities to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 1:16-17).  Declare and demonstrate the gospel!

Application Questions

  1. How we respond to our authorities influences how effective we are on mission for Jesus. Do you agree with this thought? How does the manner of our submission to authority help/detract from our effectiveness to be ambassadors for Jesus?
  2. Read Romans 13 – What does this passage teach in regard to submitting to our authorities?
  3. What does it mean to honor our authorities as unto Christ?
  4. How will you respond to the call to take heart, be on mission, and warn the nations?

June 5th – Sermon Plus+

Recommended Reading


When Helping Hurts: How To Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting The Poor… And Yourself 

By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

[From the Back Cover]

Good Intentions Are Not Enough
Unleashing and equipping people to effectively help the poor requires repentance and the realization of our own brokenness. When Helping Hurts articulates a biblically based framework concerning the root causes of poverty and its alleviation.
A path forward is found, not through providing resources to the poor, but by walking with them in humble relationships.
Whether you’re involved in short-term missions or the long-term empowerment of the poor, this book helps teach you three key areas:
  • Foundational Concepts – Who are the poor?·
  • Principles – Should we do relief, rehabilitation, or development?·
  • Strategies – How can we help people effectively here and abroad?

[Buy it on Amazon]

Sermon Review

On Sunday we began to explore what it means for us to care for the poor.  The next couple of weeks our series will be entitled “Remember the Poor”.  The title is taken from Galatians 2:10 where Peter, James, and John encourage Paul to remember the poor throughout his ministry to the Gentiles.  This was a significant moment in the development of the church because the predominantly Jewish church – led by Peter, James, and John – had just affirmed the ministry of Paul to the Gentiles.  And, having affirmed his gospel, one of the primary expressions of that gospel would be that he would remember the poor.  We took this as highly instructive for us as God’s people.  Having ensured the clarity of the gospel, it is incumbent upon us to express that good news by sharing with the poor.  How could those who have been rescued from spiritual poverty fail to show love to those in material poverty?

We looked at the concept of remembering the poor under three questions: Why help the poor? What does it mean to be poor? And, how can we help the poor.  In answer to the first question we saw that the primary reason for us to help the poor is to reflect God our Savior and King.  We were made to image God – to know Him and make Him known.  We spent a lot of time showing God’s concern for the poor from both the Old and New Testaments.  The conclusion was unavoidable: if we are to live up to our calling as the people of God, then we must care for those who are in need.  In fact, we noted that God so identified with the poor that He Himself left heaven and became a man – a poor man. Born in a stable, raised in poverty (his parents only offered a pigeon at his circumcision), had no place to lay his head, and when He died the only possession he had (garments) were taken from Him.  He did all this in order to bring us blessing and true riches.  Truly God remembers the poor and identifies with them!

Secondly, we learned from the creation account that God created us to be whole and prosperous (shalom) in four categories: relationship to God (primary), relationship to self, relationship to others, and finally relationship to nature.  Sin corrupted each of these categories and brings about poverty of some kind.  We are all poor in relation to God because of sin, and all the other categories are affected in one way or another by sin.  So, when we look at helping those who are poor we need to be comprehensive in our approach.  For example, the church at Laodicea was rich materially, but Christ evaluated them as poor spiritually.  We can also be poor in relation to others: loneliness or strife. Finally, we can be poor in self-understanding as well.  The fullness of these categories do not absolve us from reaching out to the materially poor, but they do influence and shape the way we should think about what it means to be poor.

Finally, we tried to answer the question: how can we help the poor?  We mentioned four ideas. Based on question two we quickly realized that helping the poor is not simply throwing money at them!  It involves relationship, support, and most importantly a full-orbed gospel.  As Jesus identified with the poor, so we need to see ourselves as one of them too.  We also learned that we must not be blind to our own presuppositions as to why people are poor.  Instead, we ought to humbly listen to them and seek to understand their plight.  Poverty is rarely caused by one issue.  Thirdly, we saw that there is a priority of helping those in Christ first.  This may seem ‘selfish’ on the surface, but it is not.  We need to serve those in Christ first in order to be the kind of community that attracts outsiders.  If we did not care for our own how could we have any credibility to those outside of Christ.  Finally, we saw that unless we are deeply rooted in the gospel of Christ our efforts to the poor will wane and/or we will become proud.  To help them we must be saturated in this story: “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Application Questions:

1) How can we discern the ways Christianity fits our cultural paradigm from the ways it doesn’t?
2) Mike identified the natural desire to help the poor as being a witness that we have been made in the image of God.  What are some other “natural” tendencies that show we were, in fact, made in God’s image?
3) How should we be remembering the poor who live in other nations, some more destitute than ours?
4) Is it enough for us to make financial contributions for the care of the poor?  Or do we need to get personally involved with them as well?
5) In our materialistic, consumeristic society, what are some ways we inadvertently oppress the poor?
6) What are some social, societal, cultural boundaries we can cross locally in our mission to the poor?

May 15th – Sermon Plus+

Sermon Review

We began yesterday be considering the fact that the Psalms are a collection of songs and poems. It’s an anthology of trust and praise for the people of God. You could say that the Psalms provide the soundtrack that plays under the storyline of the Bible. In these songs we see truth emotionally expressed through circumstances of life. The themes of praising God, trusting God, joy in the midst of sorrow, confessing sin, finding assurance of forgiveness… all these themes that are taught and explained in the Scriptures are brought to life in the Psalms as they are experienced in the context of life.

In Psalm 40-41 we see a call to respond to the God who saves. We observed this through three outcomes. First, we praise the God who saves. Even in the midst of difficulty, we see David committed to praising God for his greatness. When we turn away from praise in the midst of trials, our perspective gets small. We focus on small areas of discontentment. But when we lift our eyes to God, our perspective broadens. “You have multiplied your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of the yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)

Second, We trust the God who saves. We see the Psalmist work out his trust in several ways. To begin with, trusting involves waiting on the Lord. When we trust something (or someone) we’re willing to wait. Next, we saw that trusting God means acknowledging that we are not saved by the works of our own hands. David expresses that the Lord doesn’t want our sacrifices, he wants our hearts. As this Psalm is quoted in Hebrews 10 we see that the application is clear. Jesus came and submitted his body to the will of his Father, to be crucified so that we through faith in Him might be forgiven. Thirdly, we noticed that trusting God is expressed through honest acknowledgment of our sin. The Psalmist openly confesses his sin, trusting that God in his mercy offers help and forgiveness. Lastly, we trust God because he has conquered the enemies that we could not. Christ rose from the dead and therefore experiences victory of sin, death, and hell. As we are joined to him we share in his victory!

This brings us to our final point, as we praise and trust the God who saves, we make known his great salvation to all. The Lord has not restrained his mercy toward us, therefore let us not restrain the telling of his great salvation. Our prayer is that many would see and hear, and trust God as their deliverer.

Application Questions

  1. Dan encouraged us to understand the Psalms from two different perspectives: (1) the Psalms are like an anthology, or like an album, and (2) the Psalms consistently function as the ‘voice of Christ’.  How might these two perspectives shape the way you read and apply the Psalms? What challenges does this perspective bring in reading and applying the Psalms?
  2. Dan touched on the distinction between actively waiting upon God (a positive concept) versus a passivity in waiting upon God (a negative concept).  What would that distinction look like? Could you give examples from Scripture and your own life?
  3. The bulk of the sermon was on how trusting in God is expressed in the Psalms.  So often that phrase is cliche, but Dan nuanced it very well for us in 4 ways: trusting God means waiting for Him, trusting God means recognizing that we can’t save ourselves, trusting God means humbly acknowledging our sin and weakness, and trusting God means recognizing Christ’s power over our enemies.  Where do you see your faith in Christ’s promises flourishing, or where do you see it struggling?
  4. Dan gave a word of exhortation to parents regarding praise.  Psalm 40 says that praise has a missional aspect: our praise of God is seen by others and draws them to Him. Parents, do your kids see you engaging with God throughout the week and during worship gatherings? Are we free with our praise to the Lord even in public, non-Christian settings?

“The Lord has not restrained His mercy from us, may we not restrain our praise of Him to others.”

May 15th – Preparing For Sunday

Sermon Preview

This Sunday we are going to continue in the book of Psalms, specifically Psalms 40-41. But before we get into those particular Psalms we’re going to take some time to address some background information on the whole book. Why do the Psalms appear in the order they do? How should we understand them given that they are songs (or poems)? Is there a unifying structure or theme to the Psalms? These are all questions that you’ve perhaps asked in the past and on Sunday we’re going to be addressing some of these issues.

As we get into Psalms 40-41, we will see a strong call to respond to the God who saves. We will look at this response in 3 parts: praising God, trusting Him, and making Him known to others. This response is called for even though the context is one of suffering and difficulty. David wrote these Psalms as he suffered oppression from others and as he was painfully aware of his own sin. Despite these circumstances David delights in the faithfulness of God as the mighty deliverer.

We’ll also see how these Psalms are ultimately best understood as the songs of Jesus himself. David was a great king, but Jesus is the true and better David who reigns forever. As we consider the words of Psalms 40-41 from the perspective of Jesus, we’ll find great joy and help as we remember that we are united to Christ. Therefore we are brought into the Psalms and we receive help and hope.

Take some time to read Psalms 40-41. Take some notes, jot down some questions, and come ready to engage in the Word together.

Singing Together

Here are a couple of the songs we plan to sing together on Sunday. As we sing, we’re able to express the truth in deep and practical ways together. God’s people sing his praises, that’s just what we do! Take a few minutes to listen to the songs, get familiar with them, and come ready to lift your voices together.

May 8th – Sermon Plus+

Sermon Recap:

On Sunday we turned our attention from the story of Jacob to the Psalms.  Specifically we looked at Psalms 22-24.  We began our study by noting that after His resurrection Jesus showed His disciples from the OT truths regarding his death, resurrection, ascension, and the proclamation of His name to all the nations.  In fact, Jesus specifically states that these elements of His life were the necessary understanding of the Psalms.  This statement by Jesus significantly informs our reading/understanding of the Psalms, and we sought to apply His method to Psalms 22-24.

In Psalm 22 we saw Jesus as the Suffering King.  Jesus quotes this Psalm on the cross when He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?”  Psalm 23 portrayed Jesus as the One who is both shepherded and the One who shepherds us.  We often overlook the reality that Jesus looked to His Father as His Shepherd.  This adds a deeper layer of meaning for us to see this very familiar Psalm.  Because Jesus became a sheep like us by entrusting Himself to His Father’s care, we can all the more confidently entrust ourselves to Him as our Shepherd.  Finally, in Psalm 24 we saw Jesus as the Ascended King.  The Psalm asks, “Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?”  The answer is this: only a perfect person could do that.  This leaves us out because we are not perfect.  But if we see Jesus as the fulfillment of the Psalm, then He is the One who ascends to the Presence of God, the Holy place, on our behalf (see Heb. 9:24).

These Psalms present a comprehensive portrait of Christ for our lives.  We need the Suffering King who dies on our behalf.  We need His grace because of our sins.  We need the Shepherding King who assists us in all of our suffering, and who can identify with our weakness. And we need the Ascended King who intercedes for us on our journey, and who is Lord of heaven and earth.  As such, He has commissioned us to declare and demonstrate His glory to all the nations.  Jesus is, indeed, a great King! May we respond with hearts of praise, trust, and loyalty.

Application Questions:

  • Question 1 – We learned Sunday that Jesus is our suffering King, who understands, and is able to empathize with us in our suffering. How does this reality shape how we go through trials and hardship?
  • Question 2 – In Psalms 24:3-5 we see a striking question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” We learned Sunday that Christ is the only man in all of history that fits this criteria giving his followers access to God’s presence.
    • Does this truth fill your heart with joy?
    • How are you taking advantage of the fact that you have access to the throne of the Living God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?
  • Question 3 – On Sunday, Mike addressed HOW we should practice interpreting the Bible saying, “We can’t just go straight from Psalms to making application in our own lives. We must go from Psalms to asking how Israel would have applied it, to asking what does this mean in light of Jesus and the Gospel, and then finally applying it to our lives.
    • Does this make sense to you? Is this feasible? If so, how would it change the way you read the Bible in your normal everyday life?
  • Question 4 – How does the reality of the power and authority of our Resurrected Christ relate to our Church mission, “To declare and demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.”?

April 24th – Sermon Plus+

Gospel Stories – Jacob Wrestles With God

Sermon Summary

As we are moving toward the close of the narratives that center around Jacob we found Him on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. However, one significant threat/obstacle stood in his way: his brother Esau was there.  He had offended his brother 20 years ago by stealing the family blessing/birthright from him.  Jacob had fled from Esau who was threatening to kill him.

Now it was time for Jacob to face his past, to face his brother.  Jacob’s fears seemed warranted by the fact that Esau was approaching with 400 men.  As Jacob encountered this crisis we saw him as both similar and different than before. He still tried a couple of schemes to appease his brother like Jacob of old, but for the first time we found Jacob praying. He admitted his former guilt and sought the promises of God.

The night before he faced Esau he has an ambiguous encounter – a wrestling match.  The match went on all night.  Toward daybreak Jacob’s opponent “touched” his hip and puts it out of socket.  Jacob is lamed.  How will he ever defeat Esau? Jacob clings to his opponent and says that he will not let go unless his opponent blesses him. His opponent does bless him, and also changes Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning striving with God.  It is then that Jacob realizes he has been wrestling with God.  Jacob emerged from this encounter blessed, but also wounded with a limp.

In the morning Jacob faces Esau with a new confidence.  If he was able to catch a glimpse of the face of God and be accepted, then surely he will be able to stand in the presence of Esau and be accepted.  Such was the case.  Esau did accept Jacob back into the family, and Jacob finally realized the promise of God from 20 years previous that the LORD would safely bring him back to the Promised Land.

From this story we took three applications.  (1) We cannot enter the kingdom of God by our own strength.  We must rely on God’s promises and God’s actions on our behalf.  Jacob was not strong enough to re-enter Canaan on his own.  The nation of Israel was not strong enough to enter the Promised Land on their own.  We are not able to enter the kingdom of God on our own.  Jesus said that we must become as a child to enter the kingdom of God. (2) Jesus is the greater Jacob.  Jesus is the greater Jacob who wrestled with God in the darkness (Gethsemane), absorbed the wounds from God, and received the blessing of God which he was able to share with others.  It was through weakness that God’s promises were obtained by Jacob, and ultimately by Jesus.  (3) Because God’s blessing flows to those who recognize their weakness, we noted the importance of prayer.  We must deliberately humble ourselves and lay hold of the promises we have in Christ through prayer.  Like Jacob we must admit our unworthiness, but stand firm on the promises.  And, like Jacob, we must not let go of Christ until we receive what he promised.

Application Questions:

  1. How should we respond to threatening situations?  What should our faith look like when we’re seriously nervous or scared?
  2. Pastor Mike highlighted how God displays His power through human weakness.  What are some life difficulties you are trying to address only by your own self-effort?  Will you submit these situations to Christ through fervent prayer?
  3. Do you revere Jesus Christ more than you fear the earthly dangers around you?  Do you want, more than anything else, the experience of being in Christ’s presence?  Consider the blessings Paul lists in Ephesians 1:3-14: adoption, redemption, the Holy Spirit.
  4. It is one thing to seek the Lord over your own trials.  Are you seeking Him fervently about the trials of others?

April 24th – Preparing for Sunday

“Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chronicles 29:10–13 ESV)

For thousands of years God’s people have been gathering to declare his greatness and to thank him for all he’s done. The people of God gather together to praise him, it’s what we do! Each Sunday is an opportunity for us to continue in this story. We live in a world that calls for us to praise all kinds of other things: athletes, performers, entertainers, wealth, health… there is no shortage of things that are calling for our praise. But Sunday is the unique time of the week when we gather together as worshippers of God to thank him together and praise his glorious name. As you prepare to gather this weekend, come ready to participate and join your voices with those who have been praising God from generation to generation.

Sermon Preview

Life can seem like a constant struggle that moves from one conflict to the next.  We seem to go “out of the frying pan and into the fire!”  That was definitely how Jacob’s life seemed to go.  In fact, from the very beginning he was struggling with his brother Esau in the womb.  His name meant struggler or deceiver.  In this episode, though, we will see the LORD change His name through a powerful encounter with the LORD Himself.

In the passage for this Sunday we find Jacob in another potential conflict. The LORD had just rescued him from Laban, but now as Jacob prepared to return to the promised land he know that his brother Esau was there waiting for him. The last time they saw each other Esau wanted to kill Jacob.  It’s as if Jacob was delivered from the spider’s web of Laban’s household and he is returning to the lion’s den of Esau!  And, yet, Jacob carried with him the promises of God, and his homeland was included in those promises.  So, despite his fears and potential foes he embarked homeward after 20 years of being away.

What will happen? How will Esau receive him?  You can read about it in Genesis 32-33.  And, come Sunday to see how God faithfully works out His promises in the lives of His people.  With God we come to expect the unexpected.  Jacob will obtain the promises of God, but it will not be in the way he thought.  God’s power and blessing come through weakness, not human strength.  Jacob had this final lesson to learn before entering back to the promised land.  Come see how the same truth shapes us as we journey toward the New Heavens and New Earth.

Here are a couple of the songs we plan to sing. Listen to them, learn them, and come ready to sing them!

April 17th – Sermon Plus+

Gospel Stories – God Blesses Jacob In A Foreign Land (pt. 2)

How To Use Sermon Plus+

Here you will find a brief summary along with some application questions to help you better apply the sermon from Sunday. Too often we hear the Word, are affected, but walk away distracted and forgetful. This resource can help us remember and keep the conversation going. If you are part of a growth group, perhaps this can serve as a guide for your discussion.

 Sermon Summary

Sermon Plus.001Our study in Genesis has brought us to the center of Jacob’s account (Genesis 28-31).  We are at the place where God’s promises are proving themselves faithful.  God promised that He would be with Jacob.  He promised that He would multiply Jacob’s family.  He promised that He would prosper Jacob, and He promised that He would return Jacob to the promised land.  All of these were coming true.

Last week we saw how His family had grown (albeit not in ways that we’d expect).  This week we looked at a less well-known story of how God prospered Jacob’s flocks and led him out of the clutches of Laban. In both categories (family and wealth) it was the LORD’s presence that was active in fulfillment.  In the first episode of our study this week we noted that despite Laban’s trickery and deception God prospered Jacob.  Jacob’s wages were the speckled and spotted sheep, and God caused the flock to bear this kind of sheep in abundance.  Even when Laban changed the deal on the wages God ensured Jacob’s prosperity.

In the second episode we saw Jacob try to escape Laban.  While Laban was off caring for his own flocks Jacob fled for home.  He got a three days head start, but eventually Laban caught him.  And, Laban was more powerful: “It is in my (Laban) power to do you harm.”  While that statement was true, the LORD had appeared to Laban and commanded him not to touch Jacob.  Thus, Jacob was delivered from the hand of Laban, from a form of slavery really, by the LORD’s intervention.  From this we noted that despite the power of our enemies the LORD is faithful and able to deliver us according to His promise.

Finally, here are the 3 primary applications that we drew out from these two episodes: (1) Jacob was not able to rescue himself from his enemies, just as we are not able to rescue ourselves from sin and death.  We are dependent on the grace and power of Christ. (2) God faithfully and powerfully intervened on Jacob’s behalf, and He is greater than any threat.  We ought to be courageous and hopeful in life knowing that Christ is for us always. (3) The adversity that God allowed into Jacob’s life actually served to further His promises.  We, too, must see with eyes of faith that God is using adversity to deepen His blessing in our lives, and we must put off complaining.

Application Questions

  1. What does this passage reveal to us about God?
  2. After seeing Laban’s pattern in Gen 31:25-29, as a means of self-reflection, Pastor Mike asked us “What kinds of sins/behaviors do you usually accuse other people of?
    Is there any relationship between these sins and sins you observe in your own life?
  3. On the basis of God’s promise in Rom 8:28-29, that He is causing ‘all things’ (trials, temptations, affections) to shape us into the image of Christ, what circumstance(s) in your life do you need to stop complaining about?
    How specifically do God’s promises set us free from complaining?
  4. Have you ever seen God use adversity in your life to further or deepen his promises to you?
  5. As the Children of Israel were getting ready to enter the Promised Land what effect would hearing this account have on them?

Preparing For Sunday – April 17th

Sunday Gathering.001“The Worship Gathering is driven by a profound sense of purpose. We come with work to do: remembering and renewing our covenant. It’s similar to when a married couple renews their vows. They aren’t inaugurating something new when they look into one another’s eyes and reaffirm their love for each other. Instead, they’re saying, in the light of all that’s happened in their years of marriage, that they remain committed to one another. In a worship gathering, when the church comes together to hear the gospel afresh and respond in faith, it’s a similar reaffirmation. God’s promises still stand, and we remain his people by faith.” (Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace, p.98)

We don’t gather randomly and for no purpose, we come with work to do. The good work of remembering God’s faithfulness through the gospel. In order to be faithful to this purpose, it is so helpful to prepare to gather together.

Sunday school begins at 9:30am. The adults share in a time of prayer together while the kids break up into their classes. This is a great way to learn, grow, and prepare for the Sunday Gathering. If you’ve not been a part of Sunday School, that’s ok. You can jump in anytime!

Sermon Preview – Do you ever look around and wonder why King Jesus does not assert Himself more? Does it feel like His enemies are winning and flourishing, while His people seem weak and floundering? Such a feeling is not uncommon, nor is it only experienced on a corporate level.  We can feel like we personally are floundering and trapped in our own lives – especially as it relates to our faithfulness and effectiveness in living for Jesus.  Those against us seem to have the upper hand.  Our study this week in the life of Jacob speaks into these fears and distresses.  Jacob was trapped by his uncle Laban for 20 years.  When it was time to return to what God had promised, Laban opposed Jacob. Our story recounts how the LORD graciously and powerfully delivers Jacob from Laban in faithfulness to His promise.

Our prayer is that as we see God’s faithfulness to His promises to Jacob in his journey, we will be strengthened by the greater promises that we have in Christ as we journey to the New Heavens and New Earth.  Since this story is not well-known, feel free to read it before you come. The primary section we will be considering is Genesis 30:25-31:55.  (If you missed last week’s sermon, you can listen to it here.)

Singing – Come ready to lift your hands and raise your voice! Here are a couple of the songs to listen to as you get ready for Sunday.