Gospel Love For The Beloved
Sun, Mar 31, 2019
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. - Romans 12:9–13 (ESV) Love should be easy. Right? It's a simple feeling and it should come naturally to us. Right? That is what we hear in songs and speeches and movies. 'If we could all just love each other things would work out.' Right? I don't think it's that simple. Love, real love, is not our natural inclination. We love those that love us. When there is conflict, when we don't feel like it, or when we just aren't feeling it, love seems to evaporate. We are left feeling like we didn't get what we deserve, and we are ready to find revenge instead of love. The Gospel reorganizes (actually resurrects) our hearts with real love both for God and for others. In this passage of Romans 12, Paul exposes the practical implications of the gospel by giving us a piece of the Law of Love. Take a few few minutes to read through Romans 12. Also, be praying for who you can invite for our passion week events coming up soon. Our invitations were held up in production so they won't make it here till Monday. They will be available next week to take, and don't forget to check out the rest of the email with upcoming events and info of what is going on around Hope.
Gospel Gifts
Sun, Mar 24, 2019
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. - Romans 12:4–5 (ESV) Internet quizzes are weird. I've never really wanted to know what 'character from Star Wars' I am, or how my pronunciation identifies my background, or what vegetable matches my personality. If there was one that helped me identify what part of the body of Christ I am, I might take it. However, I fear it might finally verify that I'm a nose hair or meniscus (whatever that is). One of the reoccurring pictures in the New Testament for the church is the body. It's independent, yet dependent connections make it the perfect illustration to show we are put together as God's people. This week Paul is going to point us back to that idea. It will remind us of our need for humility and dependence as we continue to grow. Take a few minutes to read through Romans 12 to prepare your heart and mind for these truths. We will have the chance to celebrate communion together as an act of corporate worship. Plan to join us and bring someone along. See you at 10:30.
From Theology to Practice
Sun, Mar 17, 2019
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) A lot of us are pretty squeamish when it comes to blood. It freaks us out. Some of us even faint at the sight of it. I'm not sure how devoted we would be if we lived in Old Testament times. Ancient Judaism was a bloody religion. Worship was filled with sacrifices, most of which involved death at the hands of the priest or worshiper. Taking life and identifying with death was essential to spiritual life. As Paul turns the corner from explaining the gospel in chapters 1-11, he wants to lay out some specific implications of this new life in Christ. He begins with a 'reasonable' response - sacrifice. This sacrifice is bloodless. In fact, it's not even dead. This week begins a new section in Romans - chapter 12 which I've entitled 'Together'. Romans 12-15 will challenge us to not only know the truth of the gospel, but to walk out this new way as the gospel stays within earshot. Take some time between now and Sunday to prepare you heart and mind by reading through Romans 12 and encourage someone to come along with you.
From Theology to Doxology
Sun, Mar 10, 2019
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. - Romans 11:33–36 (ESV) Did you grow up singing the Doxology in church? If you didn't (and want to figure out what I'm talking about) or if you want to hear a beautiful version check out this video. Doxology is simply a formula for praising God and often times doxologies are appended on the end of songs or passages. They are a reflection of truth that has been revealed about God. As we close out Romans 11, Paul busts out in song. Some people think this is an early Christian hymn. He is looking back on Romans 1-11 and is so saturated and overwhelmed with God's work in salvation, he can't help but sing. This week we take a look at his doxology. Will you take some time to read through Romans 9-11 again. Do it slowly and think about what God has done and will do. Maybe even flip through Roman 1-11, then come ready to worship together at 10:30 this Sunday.
The Future and Fate of Israel - Part 3
Sun, Mar 03, 2019
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” - Romans 11:25–26 (ESV) Do you love a good mystery? Maybe when you think about mysteries your favorite detective character comes to mind. Maybe when you think of mystery you think of some event or place that has secrets like the pyramids. When we think of mystery in the Biblical text, it's not about a secret or 'who done it', but about a truth or idea that was once hidden but now has been revealed. God doesn't tell us everything all at once. He progressively reveals truth including Christ. As we close out Romans 9-11, Paul talks about a mystery that involves the fate and future of ethnic Israel. He has a heart to see his brothers come to faith and mystery involves their future and salvation. Take a few minutes to read through the text to prepare your heart and mind to worship together.
The Future and Fate of Israel - Part 2
Sun, Feb 24, 2019
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! - Romans 11:11–12 (ESV) Have you ever seen one of those pictures that is made up of a bunch of miniature pictures. Each smaller picture makes up a pixel of the larger image. Depending on what medium you are viewing it in, you can zoom in and out. The big picture is made up of all these little pictures. This make me think about the way I often think about God's sovereignty in my life. I'm concerned personally and selfishly for things to go well for me. I want the 'all things' in Roman 8:28 to work out to my advantage, peace, and comfort. I don't think I'm that unusual, but in many ways we are concerned about the little picture. We are concerned about the outcome and effect of God's plan only so much as it intersects with me. When we back up we find out there is a much BIGGER picture that is being painted. It's one we can't always see or comprehend. It's one that at times feels uncomfortable. This week in Romans 11 we are going to pull back the lens. We are going to see how the hardening of Israel intersects with us. God gives us a chance to see the larger picture. In doing so I'm praying we gain a greater love and trust that He knows the beginning from the end even when it's totally beyond our view. Take a few minutes to read back through Romans 11. Slow down and focus on verses 11-24 as you read. Do you see the BIGGER picture? We will also be celebrating God's plan of redemption through communion, so come ready to worship together at 10:30. Will you reach out to someone right now to encourage them to join you?
The Future and Fate of Israel - Part 1
Sun, Feb 17, 2019
So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. - Romans 11:5–6 (ESV) Do you trust the promises of God? Do you ever fear that you might do something to screw up God's gifts to you? Maybe, He might renege. Maybe I'll cross a line from which there is no return. Maybe God will finally get fed up with my disloyalty and find someone better. Have you had any of these thoughts? I have. Looking at the people of Israel in the Old Testament we see a group of people exactly like us - disloyal and fickle. While there were times of return and repentance it seems like the overall trend was downward away from God. As we get to New Testament times and even until?today it seems like God has left them behind. In our text for the coming weeks, Romans 11, Paul clarifies the present and future of the nation. He does this not to just fill us in but to provide confidence in the promises and character of our God. Will you take some time to read through Romans 11 before Sunday?
How to have a Gospel pedicure
Sun, Feb 10, 2019
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” -- Romans 10:14–15 (ESV) Maybe your feet look better then mine, but I would not point to them as my most attractive feature. Paul says that feet can be beautiful, not because they are neatly groomed, polished, or accented. He calls them beautiful because of their ability to carry an important message to those who haven't heard. This week we continue our exploration of Romans 10. In this section Paul tells us what part we play in God's unfolding plan of redemption. It's one that we are often hesitant to carry out. With the knowledge of the gospel and hope of God's saving work, Paul calls us to go and to speak.
How not to be a zealot
Sun, Feb 03, 2019
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. - Romans 10:2–4 (ESV) When you think of an 'on fire' Christian what does he/she look like? Often those that are new to Christianity are not just as 'saved' but 'SAVED, SAVED!' They are busy with the disciplines, telling people about Christ, and rooting out sin in every corner of their life. We look at them and wish we could re-ignite that passion, but is that the best? Is that what Christianity is like? In Romans 10, Paul returns to his desire to see the Jewish people come to Christ, but in their passion they missed something fundamental. Take some time to read through Romans 10. See if you can identify what that might be, and why it is important.
The Problem with Predestination - Part 3
Sun, Jan 27, 2019
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” - Romans 9:19–20 (ESV) Job is one of the most comforting and terrifying books in the Bible. In it we see God's control over all things. We see his power to both restrain and allow hardship, difficulty, and evil. We also see the very limited human struggle of trying to make sense of it all. It is human and even Christian to struggle to understand the purposes and plans of God while struggling in faith, but there is also a line where struggling becomes contending. It's where we think we know more and could rearrange the world into a better place. Our version of reality would be better. This is the question and struggle that Paul confronts in the 3rd objection to God's providence. Take some time before this weekend to read back through Romans 9 as we approach the purpose and plans of God in salvation. Pay special attention to the end of the chapter as it will lead us to the communion table as we remember being brought from outside the promises to a member of God's family through Christ.
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