Abundant Grace for the Worst of Sinners
Description:Can God forgive a heartless terrorist, a brutal murderer, a hate-filled racist? Sometimes we encounter people who seem so evil that they are beyond redemption, and we think there's no way God could ever change them. But God not only can, he does. Here we look at the conversion of the apostle Paul, one of the most well-known testimonies of God's abundant grace to the worst of sinners.
Description:God often uses big moments or events to enable the gospel go out to many people at once through a powerful sermon, a well-known celebrity or athlete, a large scale or amazing event that draws the attention of many. Such was the case in the early stages of the church as the spread of the gospel was often through the drawing of crowds to hear a message. Which is why it's a little surprising when God sends one of his most effective evangelist to a remote desert for a brief encounter with a single individual. We continue in the book of Acts and see how God creates divine appointments that equal gospel opportunities for us to share the good news about Jesus.
Description:Have you ever seen something that you just thought was so amazing or you wanted so bad that you just had to have it, only to find out that it's not for sale? How we respond when something we really want is denied us can reveal a lot about our heart. As the power of God in the gospel spread to Samaria, one man named Simon was so amazed by what was happening, he offered to pay money to get in on this deal, only to be told by the disciples to keep his money and check his heart. Here we look at what God's Word teaches us about the gift money can't buy and the danger of false faith.
Description:The early church father, Tertullian (c. 155-240), famously wrote in his work, “The Apology” that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” In saying this, he was speaking to the truth that while those who persecute Christians think that they are extinguishing the work of the church, they are rather serving to advance the growth of the church through the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ. This week we see this very truth illustrated in the martyrdom of Stephen from Acts 7, and learn what effect it had on the early church - and still has on the church even today.
Description:The story of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 is a classic example of "if you don't like the message, kill the messenger." Yet, Stephen stood in a long line of God's servants who were rejected and even persecuted for representing God, including Jesus himself. In his own defense, Stephen gives his accusers a long history lesson that ends up exposing their own rebellion against the Lord. Now we continue in Acts 7 and see how Stephen speech turns the tables on a stiff-necked people.
Description:In the classic Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, Clarence the angel finds himself about to be arrested by Bert the cop, and crying out in fear for help, he suddenly disappears. In the real life account of the early church, it doesn't happen quite like that. In Acts 6, Luke gives us the account of Stephen, a follower of Jesus described as having "the face of an angel" who when he finds himself arrested, doesn't cry out in fear and disappear, but rather stands firm in faith and proclaims the gospel. Stephen serves as a wonderful example of what is means to be an "angelic" witness for Jesus, and a sober reminder that doing so comes at great cost.
Description:Spend much time in any growing church, and you'll soon discover that there are internal issues and practical problems of ministry that pose a threat to the unity and common connection that characterize the gospel-centered community. Such was the case in the rapidly growing early church, as it wasn't long before complaints arose about the way meeting certain needs among the people was being handled. We take a look at Acts 6 and find out how the apostles wisely approach matters when ministry gets messy.
Description:From the very beginning of the church, Christians have been called to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel. But what does it look like to be a witness to a world that seems indifferent or hostile? Through the witness of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, we can be learn to bear witness to Christ in all areas of life, even in the face of opposition. Here we see how the very identity of the apostles was defined by bearing witness to what Christ has done, and how the perseverance of the church stands as a witness to God's providence and goodness.
Description:The early church in Acts was characterized by a Spirit-filled unity that overflowed in tangible acts of love and generosity towards one another, such that we're told there was not a needy person among them. However, not all of those acts were products of a grace-filled heart, and God teaches a hard lesson to these early believers and to us about how serious he views spiritual deception in his church. We continue our study of Acts and see the difference between loving generosity and lying hypocrisy.
Description:One way to know that the power of God is at work through the gospel is some people will respond with belief and joy. Another way to know is that some people will respond with marked opposition and threats. The former makes it a delight to boldly proclaim the gospel; the latter makes it dangerous. Here Peter and John encounter serious opposition and threats as a result of the gospel, and how they are not only encouraged, but further strengthened by God with a greater boldness to speak his word.
Description:The sole driving force of the apostles in their early ministry after Jesus’ ascension into heaven was to bear witness to Jesus Christ. From public sermons to teaching in smaller gatherings, the desire was to minimize their own gifts and personalities so that the impact of the gospel they preached could be maximized. Join us as we encounter Peter and John performing a miraculous healing in Jesus’ name, and be encouraged and challenged as they model for us what it means to use extraordinary occasions to deny ourselves and take up the privilege to proclaim an extraordinary gospel.
Description:How would you describe your church? When asked that question we often use words that set us apart or make us distinct from other churches around us. We may refer to size, preaching or music style, various programs, or denominational affiliation. But what is it that truly makes the church the church and what happens when we are devoted to those things that we hold in common as followers of Jesus?
Description:There is a sinking feeling that comes in realizing you've done something terribly wrong and you realize there is nothing you can do to make it right. When the gospel was first preached by Peter in Acts 2, God's Spirit-empowered word brought a powerful conviction upon his listeners that they had terribly wronged God, and their immediate response was, "What shall we do?" We pick back up in our study of Acts and find out the answer to the most important question we can ask.
Description:*We apologize for the technical difficulties in this recording*Imagine you hear a knock on your door and you open it up to find the sheriff there and he says "You need to come with me. You're wanted for murder." And you're racking your brain and you can't think of how this could be, and you say, "This can't be. Who did I kill?" And he says, "You killed Jesus." You're first reaction would probably be, this is crazy, that was 2000 years ago. But as the cuffs are put on and you're getting in the patrol car, your next thought might be "What do I do?" We continue to look at the events of Pentecost and the question, "Who killed Jesus?"
Description:We often mark significant occasions with memorable events. We celebrate birthdays with balloons and cake, we remember our nations independence with fireworks and parades, we mark transitions of our leaders with grand inaugural festivities. Pentecost marked the divine empowerment of Jesus' followers and the inauguration of the world-changing, gospel mission to which he had called them. And the occasion was marked by supernatural events that left people asking, "What does this mean?" We look at the outpouring of God's Spirit at Pentecost and its impact and significance both then and now.
Description:In football, teams refer to the 12th man as that invaluable role of the fans who are an important part of the teams energy and success. After Jesus ascended to heaven and before the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, the disciples are praying and preparing for the mission which lies ahead for them. But something, or rather someone is missing: Judas. We continue our study in Acts and find out what we can learn from Jesus' replacement of Judas as the 12th man on his apostolic team.
Description:Is the future of Christianity in jeopardy? Can the church survive in the post-Christian 21st century? Will increased globalization, racial and political polarization, cultural relativism, and religious hostility halt the spread of the gospel and growth of God's kingdom? Not according to God's word. Indeed, it is in such an environment that the gospel of Jesus Christ thrives and God's church expands as the Spirit of God moves in the hearts and lives of believers to live as Jesus' witnesses sent into the world. Join us in the weeks ahead as we study the book of Acts and living our lives sent with the gospel to our community and to the world.
Proverbs 31: 10-31
Description:The book of Proverbs begins by reminding us that knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord. It also opens and closes with a reminder that such wisdom is passed down from generation to generation through the wise instruction of godly parents to their children. The bible often speaks of the importance of a father's role in such instruction, but the last chapter of Proverbs gives special focus to mom's wisdom and to the woman who fears the Lord. Listen now to hear God's encouraging word to women in general and mother's in particular in Proverbs 31.
Description:In his short letter, Jude has called the church to contend for the true Christian faith and to consider the devastating consequences that accompany false teaching and those who propagate it. This week we come to the last of Jude's summons, this time a call for followers of Jesus to commit themselves to their calling, their ministry, and their faithful God. We now draw this brief series to a close and consider our role in embracing our great faith - a faith that is indeed worth fighting for.
Description:At the end of last week’s call to contend for the faith, Jude mentioned in verse 4 that the false teachers who pervert God’s grace and deny the Lordship of Jesus were “long ago designated for this condemnation.” Now, in verses 5-16, he calls the church to consider past events in the history of God’s people so that the character of these false teachers can be illuminated for all to see. Hear how God’s Word in Jude equips us to spot such false teachers and trains us to not follow them, or worse, become just like them.
Description:There's a great line in the old Christian hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers," that goes like this:Like a mighty army moves the church of God;Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod;We are not divided; all one body we,One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.While not many of us consider ourselves to be soldiers in the conventional sense, the reality is that we are soldiers for the Kingdom of Christ - soldiers unified in hope, doctrine, and love. And because we live in a world that is growing more and more hostile to the truths of Christianity, we have need to be reminded of what it means to have a wartime mentality. Here we study the opening of Jude's brief letter together, and consider his call to Christian soldiers to be ready, willing, and able to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
John 11: 17-27
Description:Easter is about the resurrection. Specifically it is about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But even more it is about our own resurrection and life through faith in him. Jesus' resurrection secures victory over death and guarantees eternal life for all who believe in him. We look at Jesus' claim that he is the resurrection and the life and his demonstration of resurrection power for all who believe in him.
Description:Readings on Jesus' trial, death and burial from all four Gospels, and a sermon from John 14 this Good Friday.
Description:Pastor Layman preaches on Jesus as the Vine from John 15 this Maundy Thursday.
Description:Typically we are more careful with and concerned about things that are ours as opposed to things that belong to others. Homeowners typically take better care of a house than renters. Business owners usually give more time and attention to details at work than employees. Parents are likely more protective of their own children than a neighbors child. Now we see the extent to which Jesus, the good Shepherd, goes in caring and providing for his own sheep.
Description:We're used to having multiple ways in and out of various places. If the front door is locked, we can try the side door. If that doesn't work for us, we might go around back and try the back door. Most people relate to God the same way. They think there are many ways to God, and no matter which religion you follow, they lead to the same place. Jesus' third "I Am" statement in John's gospel "closes the door" on that idea and points to himself as the only entryway to salvation and true abundant life.
Description:We all know the discomforting pangs of an empty stomach, and we all know the satisfaction that comes in having that hunger met with a good meal. Much of our engery and effort is spent seeking satisfaction for the various "hunger pangs" of life whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual. But ultimately, no matter how full our lives may be, there is only one thing that will truly satisfy our deepest need. We continue to look at Jesus' self-identifying "I am" statements and his bold claim to be "the bread of life."
Description:When the lights go out or we find ourselves in dark conditions, our eyes will often adjust to those conditions so that we can see ever so slightly the things around us. Spend a good deal of time in such dark conditions, and we might even convince ourselves that we see pretty well. It's only when the lights come back on that we realize how dark it was and how deceived our eyes were. God tells us apart from him, we all are living in spiritual darkness and because it's the only state we've known, we may not even recognize it. Until God shines his light in the world in the person of Jesus. Here we look at Jesus' claim that he is the light of the world.
Description:Listen as Rev. Jim, missionary to West Africa, brings our Living With A Missions Mindset series to a close by encouraging us to embrace God’s power and plan for missions.
Description:God's heart for missions is reflected most clearly in his sending Jesus into the world to accomplish salvation for sinners. God's call to missions is heard clearly in Jesus' words to his followers in John 20:21, "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." We continue our series on Living with a Missions Mindset, as we consider what it means that we are sent like Jesus by Jesus.
Description:The scene in Revelation 7:9-12, where we see “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” is truly breathtaking. And the redemptive history that leads to this joyous and triumphant picture reveal to us the great love and saving purpose that God has for all His creation. Pastor Dan kicks off our new sermon series, “Living With a Missions Mindset,” and takes us on a tour of key Biblical events that unfold God’s heart for missions, and challenge us to have a heart like His by joining in the mission to make Jesus Christ known to all the peoples of the earth.
Description:As we come to the end of our study together in the Book of Esther, we find that the appointed day for the destruction of the Jews in Persia has come. Yet, thanks to God’s providence and fidelity to the promises made to His people, the tables have been turned and instead, the Jews prevail against their enemies. And to commemorate the epic event, a new festival – the feast of Purim – is inaugurated as a way for the people to ever be reminded of the great deliverance that God has provided. Here we consider these things together and are encouraged to commemorate and celebrate our own great deliverance from the enemy of death through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Description:Sometimes in the midst of life's most difficult circumstances there just seems no way to avoid the inevitable, and we find ourselves resigned to simply suffer the consequences. Certainly that was a temptation for the Jews of Esther's day who faced a death sentence ordered by the King. But because of the faith and courage of Queen Esther to expose Haman's evil plot and to plead with the King for mercy on behalf of her people, God's people are given hope for deliverance from death. Join us as we learn from Esther how God turns mourning into joy through his promised salvation.
Description:We've all know the familiar proverb that "pride goes before a fall." (Prov. 16:11), and yet we don't have to look far beyond our own hearts to see that pride is at work in each one of us to some degree, especially when it comes to our natural desire to want to be accepted and honored by others. But God's kingdom functions on the paradoxical principle that the humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled. And nowhere is this seen more vividly than in the unexpected turn of events at the center of the book of Esther. We continue our study in Esther and look at the man the king delights to honor.
Description:Every one of us faces defining moments in our lives. Of course for believers, the greatest defining moment comes as we embrace Jesus by faith and we become citizens of God's kingdom. However, those defining moments don't end there as we continue to face circumstances, decisions, encounters in this life that force us to choose whether we will openly be defined by our faith in God or whether we will be conformed by the ways of this world. As we see in the story of Esther this week, as difficult and even dangerous as those moments can be, God uses those defining moments not only to stretch our faith, but also to serve his sovereign purposes in the life of his people.
Description:Most of us know what its like to see the wrong people rise to power. The manipulative, opportunistic coworker who gets the promotion over the steady, hardworking employee. The outspoken, pushy, self-appointed committee chair, who ignores the input of the more reserved, service oriented members. The national leader who rises to power through political maneuvering and personal prowess over the more principled, sincere public servant. Some would say that's just the way of the world, but for many it raises the question, "Why do good things often happen to bad people?" In the story of Esther, just when God's own people seem to be making inroads in the halls of a pagan government, the tables turn and they suddenly find themselves facing total annihilation. We continue to follow the story of Esther and see what happens when nations rage and kings take a stand against God's people.
Description:The story of Esther seems more at home in a Hollywood studio or Harlequin novel than in the Holy Bible. It’s a riveting tale of sex and romance, villainy and violence, power and wealth, intrigue and plot twists, all taking place while God is nowhere to be found. Or so it seems. The book of Esther presents an honest look at life in a messy, manipulative world where God appears absent or uninvolved. And yet the message is timeless: the hidden providence of our unseen Sovereign is always at work in the most unexpected ways and through the most unexpected people to accomplish his purposes and to be faithful to his promises. Join us for this short series as we see the hidden hand of God at work in the story of Esther.
Description:Opening gifts on Christmas morning is always an adventure. It comes with great excitement and expectation, but also with it's share of surprises. Sometimes we open a gift and wonder why someone would give us this particular thing. Matthew's gospel records the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus when they came to visit him in Bethlehem. We're not told why they chose the gifts they did, but we do know that not only were the gifts given with joy, but the gifts themselves give us a glimpse into the reason why Jesus was born into this world. Listen to what Jesus got for Christmas and what we can learn from those gifts.
Description:The bible records two groups who came to visit the Jesus after his birth. The first was a group of poor, lowly, local shepherd, who came from nearby fields to see one who was born a Savior. The second was a group of wealthy, foreign scholars and dignitaries who traveled many miles to see one who was born a King. The response of both upon meeting Jesus was joyful worship. Here we take a look at Matthews account of the wise men and their visit to worship Christ as King.
Description:Its safe to say that the events surrounding Jesus' birth swirled with controversy and questions. A young Jewish virgin, pledged to be married to a upright, godly man, suddenly and mysteriously conceives a child out of wedlock and understandably eyebrows are raised and questions begin to come. Two questions surrounding Jesus' birth that continue to be central to understanding the meaning of Christmas and indeed the message of Christianity are "Who is this child and why has he appeared?" That was certainly on the mind of Jesus' earthly father, Joseph when he learned his fiance Mary was pregnant. We continue in Matthews gospel and look at the born identity of Jesus revealed by God himself.
Description:With the advent of genealogical websites and DNA testing, there is a rising industry and interest in tracing one's family tree. Such an endeavor may end up linking us with some surprisingly famous connections, but it may also unveil some skeletons that we would rather remain in the historical closet. The genealogy of Jesus recorded by Matthew traces Jesus' family tree back to some of the most notorious saints and sinners in the history of God's people, and in doing so, it teaches us a great deal about God and his faithfulness to his promises.
Description:As we come to the end of the Book of Romans we encounter a man (Paul) who not only knows how to explain and apply the truths of the gospel, but a man who understands that this gospel was ultimately revealed for a much greater purpose. For what good does proper comprehension and appropriate behavior serve if it does not create within us a desire to give glory to the One who accomplished this great life and faith for us? Listen as we draw our series in Romans to a close and consider several important truths about the gospel - truths that lead us to embrace and rejoice in doctrine that sings.
Description:The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of reconciliation. It is, as we have seen throughout our study of Romans, that which unites us to God and to one another across all barriers whether racial, economic, social or otherwise. As followers of Jesus we are called to live in unity and peace together. Yet, in order to guard that true unity and experience true peace, there is a point at which we must separate ourselves from others, even those who claim to serve the Lord. We continue in Romans and look at when we must pursue a division that leads to true peace.
Description:At the end of a long and hard election season like we've just experienced, each candidate win or lose takes time to acknowledge the coalition of friends and supporters who have labored alongside them in their cause. At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul likewise sends greetings and commendations to a diverse coalition of friends who have helped in various ways further the advance of the gospel throughout the empire. Now we look at what we can learn from the gospel coalition of people whom Paul greets in Rome.
Description:When we are transformed by God's grace in the gospel, we become instruments of God's grace through the gospel to others. Paul was uniquely called as an apostle to the Gentiles and as he ends his letter to the Romans he shares both his confidence and his conviction to continue taking the gospel where it had not yet been preached. Here we consider God's call in our own lives as instruments of grace to others, and what we can learn from the Paul's godly ambition and gospel service.
Description:As this election season nears the end, we once again can expect to be bombarded by ads from both sides of the aisle pledging that they will be the ones to restore unity and bring back hope to our nation. And yet, the climate of our culture seems more divided and hopeless about the future. That is because there is only one person who can bring true harmony and hope to our lives, and he is not campaigning for office, but already commands our allegiance. Here we look at how we can live in true harmony and hope through Christ Jesus for the glory of God.
Description:As Christians, we have been given great liberty in our faith when it comes to non-essential issues. But with such great freedom comes great responsibility. For if we are not careful, we may actually use this very right thing in very wrong ways. We continue our series in Romans by considering how God’s great gift of freedom should never be used to harm fellow believers, taint our witness to the world, or destroy the work of the church on behalf of the Kingdom of God. We hope you’ll join us and be encouraged as you strive to love others just as Jesus has called you to do.
Description:How do we relate to those who disagree with us? If you've watched any of the recent presidential debates, you'd think the best way is to despise, demean, condemn and pass judgment on those who think differently. Unfortunately, believers can quickly fall into that same pattern in dealing with fellow believers in Christ. The unity that we have as followers of Christ and are called to demonstrate to the world, is often undermined by the manner in which we treat brothers and sisters who differ from us on certain matters. One of the greatest threats to our gospel witness in the world is disunity and division over what we might call debatable matters of faith. How do we determine what those matters are and how should we respond to one another when we disagree on those matters?
Description:If you found out that you were going to die in one week, how would you spend your last days? If you are like most, you'd probably cross some things off your bucket list, spend time with those closest to you, and generally live your life to the fullest extent possible. Knowing that the end is near would certainly change your approach to life. Now we consider how a similar approach to our Christian life can motivate us to live and love in such a way that God will be glorified in and through us, and the world will be impacted as a result.