Sermons

Origin Story
Sun, Jan 12, 2020
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” - 1 Samuel 1:10–11 (ESV) Every hero has an origin story. That story shapes who they are, what motivates them, and what they fear, and where they are weak. Whether it's Achillies or Batman these stories help us understand these heroes. In many ways they help us relate to them. In some ways scripture is similar. When it comes to key figures in the Bible we often are presented with their origin stories. Whether its Adam or Abraham or Moses or Jesus each of their origin stories tells us information about them. As we begin our study in 1 & 2 Samuel, we get an origin story. This story tells us about Samuel's background and family, but the focus of the story is not on Samuel, but on his mother Hannah. In her we find a woman in distress. What's important is the source and solution for that distress. I want to encourage you to become familiar with the narratives we will be covering. Take some time between now and Sunday to read through 1 Samuel 1-2. Don't get hung up on the names or places, but look at the people and their struggles in midst of life.
The Backstory
Sun, Jan 05, 2020
And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. - Judges 21:24–25 (ESV) Reading the storyline of the Old Testament is often a mix of the familiar, the weird, and what feels like the Lord of the Rings. We might have the ring of familiarity from snippets of stories we heard in Sunday school, but then we bump into things like polygamy and witches that never seemed to find their way on to a flannel graph. We might have heard of a character or two that has been moralized in a character study. We hear of their triumphs, but their failures are either papered over or derided. What we lose is the real storyline with all of its wonder and warts. This week we begin our next big series - We Need a King (1 & 2 Samuel). This will take us through a tumultuous time in the history of God's people. It will also show us how God works to carry out his purposes in spite of and with flawed, sinful, and even rebellious people. We will build a portrait of what we really need - a true, faithful, forever King. This Sunday we get the backstory examining what comes before and who we need to be looking for in the narrative. Take a few minutes and read the first few chapters of 1 Samuel and why not invite a friend to join us in this new year. See you Sunday at 10:30.
Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude
Sun, Dec 29, 2019
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. - 1 John 5:1–3 (ESV) What do you want to change in 2020? What resolutions are you making? How will 2020 be different then 2019? These are the types of questions that seem to be inescapable after Christmas. We reflect on what 2019 brought and we think about what is ahead. What I can tell you is that change will come in 2020. Some of that change will happen because of your effort. Some change will happen because of decisions you make - good and bad. Also, some changes will happen from forces outside of your control. How do you think of change in your spiritual life? Is that important? If I just read my Bible, go to church, and pray, will I change? I'm not a fan of resolution-type sermons, but I'm talking about our spiritual progress. It may not involve grand plans or checklists and probably won't emerge from what you think. Take some time to read in 1 John 4-5. In these chapters the old apostle John encourages his readers to evaluate and mature.
Shepherds and Angels
Sun, Dec 22, 2019
The Cast of Christmas - Shepherds and Angels - Luke 2:8-20
Three Kings
Sun, Dec 15, 2019
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." - Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV) What is Christmas without Santa Claus? For many in the evangelical world this is a question that splits individuals and families. Is he a fun figure to encourage kindness and obedience during the season? Or is it a myth that encourages us to lie to your kids? Don't worry I'm not stepping into the Catastrophic Claus Controversy, but I would encourage you to check out what we do know about the real Pugilist Not So Jolly Non-Elf. However, there are other mysterious figures in the real Christmas story. This week we take a look at some figures that are usually pictured around the nativity but weren't really there. Who they are, where they are from, and why they are there helps point us to the true nature of the one who has come. I encourage you to read through Matthew 2 as we prepare to look at the Magi this week in our series - 'The Cast of Christmas'. Why not invite someone to come with you?
Mary and Joseph
Sun, Dec 08, 2019
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. - Matthew 1:18-19 (ESV) What's your favorite Christmas movie? There are all kinds of unforgettable characters that surround Christmas - Frosty, Rudolph, Buddy, Kevin, and John McClane to name a few, but one I've been thinking about recently is Ebenezer Scrooge. The original Bah Humbug himself calls us to consider the path that we are on and how it potentially could lead us to happiness or destruction. That's the morality of Christmas. Be kind, nice, and generous especially at Christmas. We might think that the point of Christmas is not to end up on the 'naughty list'. If we aren't careful, we overlay these messages to our celebration of Advent. The Cast of Christmas just becomes another in the long line at Christmas that are telling us be be better and be nicer. While the true story of Christmas will change us, this change doesn't well up from within us. It actually originates from something beyond us, and the cast of Christmas wants to point us toward it. This Sunday we look at an unlikely lowly couple central to the story, Mary and Joseph. What do they have to tell us about Christmas, and how do they point us not to be better but to find the One who is better?
The Prophets
Sun, Dec 01, 2019
The Prophets - Genesis to Isaiah
Absent or Present
Sun, Nov 17, 2019
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. - Esther 1:10-12 (ESV) Do you ever look around this world and wonder where God is in all of this? Does it feel like he is absent? Or maybe He just doesn't care? It's not an uncommon feeling even among honest Christians. Did you know there is a book of the Bible where God is absent. It's the only one where He is never even mentioned. This Sunday, I'm happy to have Jonathan Haefs with us. He is the pastor of Shades Valley Community Church in Birmingham. It's our sister EFCA church in the state. This Sunday he will be with you to open up the book of Esther. In this book God is unseen and unspoken. But is He uninvolved? What might this narrative tell us about our day? And what might it encourage us to consider when we feel like He isn't here?
Gospel Doxology
Sun, Nov 10, 2019
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. - Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) It's not how you start, but how you finish. This week, we finish an almost 2 year-long journey though the book of Romans. As we have unfolded this book we have seen the glories of the gospel and its implications. What have you learned along the way? What has impacted you? As Paul closes the book, he wants his readers to return to those themes and the God who revealed them. If you feel tired this week is for you. He wants you to find strength not in a new method or secret strategy but in a familiar truth. Take a few minutes to read the closing chapter of Romans, chapter 16.
Enemies and Friends
Sun, Nov 03, 2019
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16:17-18 (ESV) Ever play the game 2 Truths & A Lie? In this party game, you go around a circle and one person says 2 things about themselves that are true about themselves and one 'truth'. The goal is to figure out who are the best liars. It's a fun game and a great ice breaker. This same game is not fun when it comes to the gospel, but often times that is how error creeps in. Things sound good. The person is eloquent. So what they say has to be true. Right? As Paul draws the book of Romans to a close he sounds a warning. WATCH OUT! He wants the Romans (and us) to be on alert. He lays out the dangers and motives of false teachers. Take a few minutes to read through Romans 16 as we finish up this book. Also, I'd love to hear about the things in this book that have impacted you!
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