Sun, Dec 18, 2016
Duration:41 mins
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9 ESV) Let’s be honest. Christmas is a reciprocal kinda holiday. When we give a gift, we expect something in return. We might only want a ‘thank you’ but we want something. Most of the time we want an equal or greater gift. When we don’t get it, we are a bit disappointed. (Ok - maybe that’s just me!) Because of this ‘rule’ of Christmas, we are a bit picky about who deserves a gift. But what if you got nothing in return. In fact, would you be willing to give a gift to someone that hated you? Probably not, because they deserve something worse than coal for Christmas, right? But this week, I want to tell you about how Christmas, at it’s core, is about unreciprocated giving.
Sun, Dec 11, 2016
Duration:50 mins
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 ESV) It was perfect! I had never seen anything like it. As I walked into Lowes, I thought I had hit the Church Christmas Decorating Jackpot. Before my eyes was a giant 6 foot tall J-O-Y, lit from the inside. It was sturdy yet light and it was foldable for easy storage. This was going to be perfect! I went up to it hoping to find it on sale. But I failed to find a price tag. Guessing at the price, I sought out a sale person to verify the cost. “How much for that giant bundle of Christmas J-O-Y?", I asked. The clerk looked above his glasses at me. ‘You don’t really want to know.’ he said. ‘I’m interested in it for a decoration for our church.’ I replied, kinda confused at that moment. ‘More than you can afford', he retorted. He continued, ‘For some reason they only sent us 2 and decided to price them at $1200.’ Wow, that is some pricey joy! We acknowledge that money can’t buy happiness. But as much as we deny it, at Christmas, the large attractive force between ‘things’ and ‘happiness’ prove almost impossible for us to separate. So, is the joy of Christmas in what we give or is it in what we receive? Or maybe the joy of Christmas comes from something we could never afford? This week, we examine the theme of joy. How do we get it? Where does it come from? How do we hold on to it? In addition to our advent reading and worship, we will have a special event from our youth! Bring a friend with you to celebrate this Advent season. And don’t forget to check out what else is going on at Hope, including our party on Sunday night.
Sun, Dec 04, 2016
Duration:41 mins
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14 ESV) We see it in beautifully scripted fonts on the front of Christmas cards. We sing about it in carols. We hear it recited in pageants. Yet in a season of rushing through activities and conflicts within family, peace seems to be the last thing we feel. Where is the peace the angels sang about? How do we get it? Is it what we think it is? This week, as we continue to celebrate the Advent season, we will look at Peace. Peace is a regular theme in scripture. God is even named the God of Peace. So how do we participate in this peace? Come worship with us and find out. Why not invite someone to join you? The building has been beautifully decorated and I can't wait for the church to gather to celebrate Advent. See you Sunday! Would you like a few free resources to celebrate advent at home? Check out the daily downloadable devotional from Desiring God. Have kids? Try the downloadable coloring pages from the Jesus Storybook Bible
Sun, Nov 27, 2016
Duration:42 mins
‘I hope I get that ______ for Christmas!’ Fill-in the blank. It’s the plea of every kid and many grown-ups this time of year. We ‘hope’ for something BIG. But our hopes are mere wishes wrapped in wants. Is that all ‘hope’ is? Is it just a wish? This week we will explore where we find hope as Christians. It’s more then a wish. And it has basis that is sure. Come with us as we explore the two vistas of Hope. And see how Advent helps us to see Hope clearly.
Defining Christianity - Part 2
Sun, Nov 13, 2016
Duration:46 mins
The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. (Acts 15:6-7 ESV) Some church meetings are over the color of the carpet, the budget or officers. Those are the ones that tend to get a lot of the bad press, especially when things go bad. We all know about ‘that church’ that split over the color of the carpet. However, some church meetings are vitally important and come with long lasting consequences. Acts 15 describes such a gathering. Last week we laid out the nature of the conflict. This week we want to lay out how it was resolved. The breach between the Jews and Gentiles would define the ongoing course of the church. It would solidify the understanding of the gospel. This week we lay out the witnesses, reasons, and conclusions reached in that counsel. If you have ever wondered how we went from Judaism, the temple, and sacrifices to Christianity, churches, and communion, this is a sermon for you.
Defining Christianity - Part 1
Sun, Nov 06, 2016
Duration:51 mins
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. (Acts 15:1-2 ESV) Christians are good people. Christians are people that keep the 10 commandments. Christians are folks that love God and love their neighbor. Christians are people that go to church. Christians are individuals that are good citizens. Christians are Bible people. Christians are people that do the right thing. How do these descriptions sit with you? Are they accurate? Are they complete? How would you describe a Christian? This week Luke relays the events at a critical moment in the history of the early church. In Acts 15 the question of what it meant to follow Christ was on the table. What were the qualifications? Did the path to Christ go through Judaism? Did following Him mean keeping the Law? Luke outlines the first church counsel where this critical issue was decided. You might think these issues have long been settled but our quandary over those opening questions in the first paragraph might demonstrate otherwise. Take some time to read through Acts 15.
Simple Christianity
Sun, Oct 30, 2016
Duration:56 mins
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:21-23 ESV) Progress = complication. That’s how I feel about our world. We live in a time where things are amazing! Technology has enabled amazing things in travel, in information, in medicine, in education, in 'you name it'. But to be honest, sometimes I day-dream about going back to simpler times, becoming a kid again with less complications. Unfortunately, I think we often treat the Christian life the same way. We think that progress = complication. A deeper spiritual life means discovering secret paths to growth. Or we read books that tell us specifically how to pray, read, parent, live, etc. And after awhile we get tired, frustrated, and then just overwhelmed. We feel like a failure. But is that the Christian life? This week, we take another look at Paul & Barnabas’ first missionary journey. As they continue on their adventure, I want us to discover the simple Christian life they taught. Take some time to read through Acts 13-14. Also, I want to encourage you to invite someone. Or if you haven’t seen someone at church in a while, why not give them a call, write a note, or email them.
Everyday Missionaries
Sun, Oct 23, 2016
Duration:52 mins
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3 ESV) If you grew up in the church, like me, a missionary visit meant cool things from faraway place, slideshows, stories of adventure, and massive amounts of guilt to-go. I remember one missionary weekend when a large snake skin was rolled down the aisle and I also got to shoot a poison dart blowgun. To be honest, the next week of ‘normal’ church was a bit of a let down. With those types of experiences we tend to think of missionaries as slightly awkward people that go to faraway places to speak in another language and share the gospel with people who have never heard it. With that kind of thinking, I can understand why there is a disconnect when they say that we are all missionaries. This week we will continue to explore the book of Acts in our series, Gospel on the Move. We will see what many call the first missionary journey of Paul's, in Acts 13-14. Take some time to read through this section. And take some time to think about where today, you might be a missionary, too.
Fighting God
Sun, Oct 16, 2016
Duration:57 mins
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. . . So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (Acts 12:1-5 ESV) Let’s be honest. Most of us are pessimist. Our outlook on the future is bleaker then our faded memories of the past. We sometimes then mask our fear with escapism, “God come and get us out of here!” And in moments of honesty we look around and wonder what is going on. Has God gone on vacation? Are we being judged? Did something slip by Him? This week in Acts we will witness the final curtain call for Peter. He has been the predominate figure throughout the first half of this book. But now through miraculous circumstances, he will exit. But as he does, we get to see a glimpse of who is really in charge, in both difficulties and triumphs. Take a few minutes to read through Acts 12. It’s an important and steadying reminder in this season of uncertainty. Then plan to join us on Sunday.
Forgotten Heroes
Sun, Oct 09, 2016
Duration:46 mins
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37 ESV) Most of us want to be the superstar. We want to be famous. We want the adulation and notoriety. If we are trying to be pious we might fain humility but we would really like it if people whispered our name as we came in the room. The danger of this mindset is that, either overtly or secretly, we foster a wrong perception of ourselves and others. And even worse, we minimize who God has made us to be. This week I want to tell you about a man named Joseph. (Not Jesus’ earthly dad). He’s better known by his nickname, Barnabas. He was pivotal in the development of the early church. But in contrast to Peter or Paul, he often seems to have worked in the background. To prep your heart and mind to worship together, would you take some time to prayerfully read through Acts 11. It begins with Peter’s mission report about the Gentiles, but our focus will be on the latter half of that chapter.
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