Mar 25, 2018
In The Midst Of Storms
When Jesus said, "Follow me," His calling entailed taking up our cross daily and denying ourselves. In other words, following Jesus will include hardship, suffering, and self-sacrifice. Considering that, can you really trust Him with your life and everything and everyone in it? One way in which Jesus developed the faith of His disciples was in the context of a life-threatening storm.
 
In Luke 8:22-25, we learn how the Lord ordains storms as we walk with Him. Even though as faithful disciples we might be right in the middle of God's will, we still encounter difficulties beyond our control. Jesus' disciples encountered a major storm, because they followed Jesus to the other side of the lake. We also encounter difficulties beyond our control as we follow Jesus. In fact, sometimes it even feels like God is sleeping as we perish. The important thing to realize is that even when we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, these things do happen and God ordains them to happen. The only variable is whether we will respond in fear or faith.
 
So, trust the Lord in the midst of storms. Ask yourself the two critical questions contained in this passage. First, who then is this Jesus? In these verses, we learn that Jesus is God, His promises are true, and He understands and cares for His disciples. As a result, we can be confident that Jesus is sufficient in the storm. Second, if Jesus is sufficient in the storm, then where is your faith? Clearly, the disciples' faith was developing. They obeyed Jesus and turned to Jesus when they were in trouble, but they did so in panic and incomplete understanding. If you find yourself in a storm and you, like the disciples, possess a developing faith in Jesus, then don't be ashamed to cry out to Him like they did, trusting that He really is sufficient in the storm, even when life doesn't make sense.
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  • Mar 25, 2018In The Midst Of Storms
    Mar 25, 2018
    In The Midst Of Storms
    When Jesus said, "Follow me," His calling entailed taking up our cross daily and denying ourselves. In other words, following Jesus will include hardship, suffering, and self-sacrifice. Considering that, can you really trust Him with your life and everything and everyone in it? One way in which Jesus developed the faith of His disciples was in the context of a life-threatening storm.
     
    In Luke 8:22-25, we learn how the Lord ordains storms as we walk with Him. Even though as faithful disciples we might be right in the middle of God's will, we still encounter difficulties beyond our control. Jesus' disciples encountered a major storm, because they followed Jesus to the other side of the lake. We also encounter difficulties beyond our control as we follow Jesus. In fact, sometimes it even feels like God is sleeping as we perish. The important thing to realize is that even when we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, these things do happen and God ordains them to happen. The only variable is whether we will respond in fear or faith.
     
    So, trust the Lord in the midst of storms. Ask yourself the two critical questions contained in this passage. First, who then is this Jesus? In these verses, we learn that Jesus is God, His promises are true, and He understands and cares for His disciples. As a result, we can be confident that Jesus is sufficient in the storm. Second, if Jesus is sufficient in the storm, then where is your faith? Clearly, the disciples' faith was developing. They obeyed Jesus and turned to Jesus when they were in trouble, but they did so in panic and incomplete understanding. If you find yourself in a storm and you, like the disciples, possess a developing faith in Jesus, then don't be ashamed to cry out to Him like they did, trusting that He really is sufficient in the storm, even when life doesn't make sense.
  • Mar 18, 2018More Than Just Hearing
    Mar 18, 2018
    More Than Just Hearing
    In Luke 8, we see how Jesus secures our trust through His gracious acts. And if we trust Him, then we will listen to what He says. However, if we really trust Him, it involves more than just hearing. In Luke 8:16-21, Jesus warns us to be careful how we listen to God's Word. 
     
    Listening poorly means hearing but not doing. Are you hiding the light of Jesus' teaching by failing to live it out? Be careful! There are consequences for poor listening. For, the light of Jesus' teaching will expose you, to varying degrees in this life but ultimately at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Furthermore, if you don't use it, you'll lose it. In fact, if you never apply it, you never really had it. God's Word was meant to be applied so as to produce fruit!
     
    Listening well means hearing and doing. Are you in Jesus' family, bearing His family resemblance, by increasingly putting His teaching into practice? In doing, we betray our belief that Jesus' teaching is true. In doing, Jesus' teaching becomes part of who we are. In fact, we don't really have Jesus' teaching until we live it out. However, doing so takes a gracious act of God. So, be careful how you listen. For, there are consequences for listening well. You will produce fruit, and the more you apply God's Word, the more of it you'll truly have. 
  • Mar 4, 2018Are You Taking God At His Word?
    Mar 4, 2018
    Are You Taking God At His Word?
     
    God has secured your trust through the person and work of Jesus Christ and His unfailing faithfulness. No one could prove to be more trustworthy. However, if we really trusted God, then it would naturally follow that we would listen to what He says to us and we would do what He tells us to do. In fact, if we do that by the grace He provides through the indwelling Holy Spirit, then He has promised that we will grow spiritually. So, are you taking God at His Word?
     
    In Luke 8:4-15, Jesus told a parable about four different kinds of soil that represent four different ways that people respond to God’s Word. One thing is clear from the beginning, namely, God’s Word is sown into the world of humanity. Not only that, but God’s Word is sown to produce fruit … and it will produce fruit. The only question is, to what extent is God’s Word producing fruit in your life?
     
    Through this parable, Jesus illustrates how God’s Word will impact your life exactly as much as you let it. Some people are unresponsive to God's Word on account of a hard heart and being spiritually blinded. Others question God's goodness and abandon their faith in God's Word in hard times. Still others have misplaced priorities, worrying about the riches and pleasures of this world to the extent that such worldly idols compromise the fruitfulness of God's Word in their lives. Finally, some listen to God's Word and allow it to sink in; they hold fast to God's Word without being distracted by worldly riches or pleasures; they persevere in God's Word even when life gets hard. Such people end up producing substantial spiritual fruit by means of the gracious work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They also sow the seed of God's Word into the lives of others, trusting God with the results. 
  • Feb 25, 2018Has Jesus Secured Your Trust?
    Feb 25, 2018
    Has Jesus Secured Your Trust?
    According to the Bible, God will forgive you and cleanse you of your sin if you turn from sin to God and trust in Jesus Christ alone as your personal Savior. Then, as Christians, we are called upon to follow Jesus wherever He leads us by the grace that He promised to provide. In both cases, this requires a fair amount of trust in Jesus that He is who He claims to be and that He is willing and able to do what He has promised to do. How can we be sure that we can trust Jesus like that?
     
    In Luke 8:1-3, we find that Jesus secured the trust of several women through His gracious acts. After Jesus had graciously acted on their behalf by healing their diseases and giving them new life, these women responded with faithful obedience. 
     
    This small little snapshot from Jesus' ministry is illustrative of a much larger pattern that we find in Scripture, namely, that God seeks to secure the trust of people through His gracious acts. For, God desires a people who will trust Him as their God. In order to secure their trust, He acts graciously on their behalf. In the OT, we saw God act in this way on behalf of Israel through the Exodus, conquest of the Promised Land, and later, restoration after the exile. In the NT, we see this through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus to pay the penalty for humanity's sin. 
     
    So, has Jesus secured your trust? Consider what Jesus has done for you. Could He possibly have done any more?! Then, trust Him with your life. Trust Him as your Savior. Trust Him as you obediently follow Him. There really is no other way! 
  • Feb 18, 2018After Being Saved By Grace, Are You On Your Own?
    Feb 18, 2018
    After Being Saved By Grace, Are You On Your Own?
    Series: Spirituality
    Most Christians would agree that people are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, after being saved by grace, are you on your own? In Galatians 3:1-3, Paul addresses this issue to Christians in the early church.
     
    As we seek to answer this question, it is helpful to consider first that the Bible presents three stages of salvation, each stage dealing with a different aspect of humanity’s common sin problem. First, justification is salvation from the guilt and penalty of sin. Second, sanctification is salvation from the reigning power of sin. Third, glorification is salvation from the presence of sin in both spirit and body.
     
    In Galatians 3:1-3, Paul rebukes his readers for failing to realize that the method of justification determines the method of sanctification. Thus, if a person is justified by grace through faith in Jesus, then that same person will be sanctified by grace through faith in Jesus. For, fallen humanity is helpless and powerless to do either by their own woefully insufficient resources. Therefore, we must depend upon the all-sufficient God in faith to do what only He can do, namely, justly and righteously grant us a new identity in Christ and empower us to live a new life in Christ.
     
    So, live the spiritual life by grace through faith in Jesus. Express your faith in the Lord as you avail yourself to His channels of grace, namely, prayer, Scripture, and the local church to which He has called you. Then, understand that the spiritual life is a process in which you are actively involved.
  • Feb 11, 2018Overcoming Opposition In The Spiritual Life
    Feb 11, 2018
    Overcoming Opposition In The Spiritual Life
    Series: Spirituality
    As followers of Jesus in a fallen world, we encounter forces from within and without that oppose our living of the Spirit-filled life for which Jesus saved us. The opposition we encounter is three-fold. The world opposes the things of God such that the life God has called us to live is counter-cultural. The devil opposes the things of God by subtly working against the gospel of grace. The flesh, our fallen nature, who we are apart from Christ, wages war against the Holy Spirit within us, compelling us to live contrary to God's will. This three-fold opposition to the spiritual life from without and within is great.
     
    However, the Holy Spirit within you is greater. He is greater than the world, the devil, and the flesh. 
     
    So, walk by means of the Spirit. This begins by recognizing that without Christ and His gracious ministry in our lives through the indwelling Spirit, we can do nothing. So, both as individuals and as a church, walk by means of the Spirit, crying out God, "I can't do this on my own. The opposition is too great. Help me!" God never intended us to live the spiritual life by our own resources. That's why He gave us the gift of Himself through the indwelling Spirit. The opposition we face is great. But, the Holy Spirit within you is greater. So, walk by means of the Spirit.
  • Feb 4, 2018Worship
    Feb 4, 2018
    Worship
    Series: Other
    Jim Ewing served as a guest speaker in our worship service this Sunday, delivering a message on the subject of worship. 
     
    1. Worship is comprehensive.
    2. Worship is competitive. 
    3. Worship is personal and corporate.
  • Jan 28, 2018Quench Not The Holy Spirit
    Jan 28, 2018
    Quench Not The Holy Spirit
    Series: Spirituality
    The Holy Spirit guides the followers of Jesus in accordance with God's will for our lives as we make important decisions. That being said, we still have a choice as to whether or not we choose to follow the Spirit's leading. When we say, "No," then we are quenching the Spirit's influence and activity in our lives. 
     
    In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul addresses this subject with a command to his readers: do not put out the Spirit's fire. Remember, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells each believer in Jesus Christ in order to conform them to the likeness of Jesus. He also works through Christians collectively to build up the church, the Body of Christ. Naturally, the right response for Christians would be to yield to the work of the Spirit. Instead, we too often put out the Spirit's fire.
     
    We put out the Spirit's fire when we suppress His activity and influence in our lives by elevating something else above God's will. We may do this out of ignorance, pride, or fear. Regardless of the reason, we say, "No," to God as we go on our way, quenching the Spirit to our own detriment.
     
    Praise the Lord that there is a better way! Follow Jesus wherever the Spirit leads. Look to Jesus as the ultimate example of one who was willing to go wherever God the Father wanted Him to go, be whoever the Father wanted Him to be, and do whatever the Father wanted Him to do. This may seem a little scary, but we must remember that the Lord is supremely worthy of our trust. So, trust the Lord with your whole life. 
     
    The resource referenced in the sermon is My Heart, Christ's Home by Robert Boyd Munger. It can be purchased at: https://www.ivpress.com/my-heart-christ-s-home-booklet.
     
    This message drew heavily upon content found in He That Is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer.
  • Jan 21, 2018Do Not Grieve The Holy Spirit
    Jan 21, 2018
    Do Not Grieve The Holy Spirit
    Series: Spirituality
    When we harbor unconfessed sin in our lives, we are spiritually shooting ourselves in the foot. In Ephesians 4:30, we find that sin grieves the Holy Spirit of God who indwells those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. Thus, the Spirit’s gracious ministry through the Christian that conforms them to the likeness of Christ is largely set aside as the Spirit becomes focused on a pleading ministry to the Christian to deal with areas of unconfessed sin.
     
    The good news is that confession is God’s cure for the effect of the Christian’s sin. In 1 John 1:5-10, we discover how sin breaks fellowship with a holy God. Broken fellowship, if left unresolved, will lead to corrective discipline from God (cf. Hebrews 12). But, sincere confession restores fellowship.
     
    So, confess your sins. We can learn much about what this looks like from the parable of the Prodigal Son (cf. Luke 15). Like the young man in the parable, Engage in self-examination. Then, confess any known sins with a broken and sincere heart to God and others affected by your sin. Having done so, know that your Heavenly Father forgives your sin, no matter how big.
     
    [This sermon relies heavily on material found in He That Is Spiritual, by Lewis Sperry Chafer.]
  • Jan 7, 2018Are You Really Spiritual?
    Jan 7, 2018
    Are You Really Spiritual?
    Series: Spirituality
    Spirituality is a popular topic in our society today. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear people say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” However, in order to answer the question, “Are you really spiritual?”, it is helpful to look to the Bible to see what God has to say about it.
     
    According to 1 Corinthians 2:6–3:4, there are two kinds of knowledge, namely, natural knowledge that is accessible through the aid of our senses and reason, as well as spiritual knowledge that is only accessible through the aid of the indwelling Spirit of God.
     
    When it comes to spirituality, there are three kinds of people: the natural person, the fleshy Christian, and the spiritual Christian. Each category is defined by one’s access to and application of spiritual knowledge. The natural person has not trusted in Christ for salvation and so does not have the indwelling Spirit. Thus, spiritual knowledge is foolishness to them. The fleshy Christian has trusted in Christ for salvation and so has the indwelling Spirit, but they effectively ignore the Spirit and live their lives much like a natural person, that is, according to the desires and passions of their flesh. The spiritual Christian has trusted in Christ for salvation and so has the indwelling Spirit, but they receive spiritual knowledge and apply it to their lives through the gracious aid of the Spirit. Therefore, one’s spirituality is determined by how one relates to the Spirit of God.
     
    So, assess your spirituality by asking yourself two questions. First, do you have the Spirit? If you have trusted in Christ for salvation, then you do. If you have not, then what are you waiting for? Second, how are you relating to the Spirit? Are you submitting to His work in your life or ignoring Him. We’ll go into more detail on what this looks like in the coming weeks.