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Sunday Recap for 1/21: Big Picture Question: How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

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Our Scripture for today is 1 Samuel 12:19-25:

1 Samuel 12: 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Our Big Picture Question is:

 How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

And we found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • He makes them a people for Himself
  • He gives them Godly leaders
  • He does great things for them

Let’s look at our first answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He makes them a people for Himself

1 Samuel 12: 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

  • What was Samuel’s exhortation to Israel prior to these verses?
  • What sin did He accuse them of?
  • What is their response in verse 19?
  • How have these sins been a pattern in the life of the people of God?
  • Consider this quote from John Owen and consider how it details what Samuel is commanding the people.

If a sin has remained long corrupting your heart, if you have allowed it to abide in power and prevalency without vigorously attempting to kill it and apply healing to its wounds, this attitude is dangerous.   Have you permitted worldliness, ambition, and greediness to eat up other responsibilities instead of holding constant communion with God for a long period of time?  Have you allowed sin to defile your heart with vain, foolish, and wicked imaginations for many days?  That ongoing sin has a dangerous symptom as David said in Psalm 38:5 “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.”  

  • How does Samuel comfort the people?
  • What aspect of God’s character does he highlight?
  • Consider these three verses to show us how we might root out deep-seated sin in our hearts

Be silent before GodPsalm 4.4b ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent

Ask God to search youPsalm 139. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Confess knowing you are in Christ2 Corinthians 13.5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?

  • What does it mean that God will not forsake you for His name’s sake? Consider Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul

Let’s look at our second answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He gives them Godly leaders

1 Samuel 12: 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

  • What role does Samuel see that he has in the life of the people of God?
  • How seriously does Samuel take that role?
  • How does the gravity and weight of Samuel’s responsibility and role display God’s pleasure for His children?
  • How is verse 23 connected to 19? What should that relationship look like in the life of the church?
  • Where do you see this type of relationship demonstrated and commanded in the NT?

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Let’s look at our third answer.  We see that God shows His great pleasure to His children because…

He does great things for them

1 Samuel 12: 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

  • What is the intersection of faith and fear look like?
  • What is the motivation for obedience in verse 24?
  • What is Samuel’s warning?
  • What are New Testament encouragements that are similar to this? Consider James 2:

James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • How is James’ explanation of faith similar to Samuel’s exhortation?
  • What is the application that James gives?

Consider also 1 John 4:

I John 4 20 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

  • How are the promises of 1 John also similar to Samuel and James?
  • How do these commands and promises work themselves out among the people of God?

Big Picture Question:  How does God show His great pleasure to His children?

Truth: God demonstrates His great pleasure to His children by making us a people for Himself, who He then equips with Godly leaders, to proclaim the great things that He has done and is doing.

Application: Live knowing that you spend each minute of each and every day beneath the undying and unending pleasure of God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Action:  Begin your days this week with the recognition that God’s love is going to be poured out to you and through you. 

Sunday Recap for 1/14: Big Picture Question: How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

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Clicking a redeem button, 3d render

Sunday, January 14, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 12:6-18.

1 Samuel 12:6 And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness,  who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers. 8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them,  then your fathers cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak  and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.  16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

From those verses, we asked this Big Picture Question:

How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

And we found these three answers from that Big Picture Question:

  • He reminds us of His faithfulness
  • He reminds us of our need
  • He gives us hope

He reminds us of His faithfulness

1 Samuel 12:6 And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers

“John the Baptist focused on Jesus so much that he was willing to be unimportant for His sake”

Samuel continues his farewell address by reminding the people of God’s faithfulness.  Before walking through some hard truths, he wants them to remember the righteous deeds that God performed for them and their fathers.  This is key for all of us as we walk through difficult and painful times.  Without reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness and goodness, we suffer without hope.

He reminds us of our need

8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.

Samuel reminds them of the cycle that the people of God repent of and over.  They enjoy God’s blessing, forget God and fall into sin, God disciplines them, they repent, and they once again enjoy the blessings of God.  This is a cycle that we all fall into.  In fact, some of our difficult circumstances are due to due to our sinful choices.  Not all, but some.  Samuel wants all of the people of God to be aware of our weakness in this area. We all need people like Samuel who speak these hard truths and reminders into our lives.

He gives us hope

13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.  16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

But there is a great hope, Samuel declares.  He exhorts the people of God to have great faith in God.  Fear Him.  Obey Him.  This is our hope.  We have Jesus.  He is our hope, and we will endure our painful circumstances when we trust in Jesus like Samuel encouraged the people to trust God.

Big Picture Question:  How does God redeem our painful and sinful circumstances?

Truth:  God’s faithful meeting of our needs redeems our sinful and painful circumstances and gives us hope for present and future grace.

Application:  Live knowing that the memories of your hard times should give you hope that God will be faithful in your present need.

Action:  Proverbs 3:11 Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father, the son in whom he delights.

Sermon Recap from 1/07 service Big Picture Question: How is obedience communal?

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Sunday, January 7, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 12:1-5:

12:1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

We looked at this Big Picture Question:

How is obedience communal?

And we found these  3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • Faith is always personal
  • Faith is always public
  • Faith is always accountable to God

Faith is always personal

1 Samuel 12:1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day.

Samuel wants to retire, so he examines the areas where he would be personally responsible before God in performing his duties as a priest.  He asks the people if he has defrauded them or stolen from them.  He asks for them to bring any accusations against him if he has failed.  Samuel is living out his personal faith and obedience within the communal accountability of the people of God.

Faith is always public

1 Samuel 12:3 Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”

In the full living out of Samuel’s personal faith, he not only asks if he has hurt or offended someone, he offers to restore any wrong that he has done.  They respond that he has been faithful.  The personal life of obedience invites others to participate by holding each person accountable within the community and before God.

Faith is always accountable to God

1 Samuel  12:5 And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

The culmination of the personal life obedient to God is the recognition that our obedience is in the context of God’s eye and His accountability.  When we obey, we obey God in the context of the people of God.  Those truths should inspire us to live boldly and faithfully as God is gracious.

Big Picture Question:  How is obedience communal?

  • Faith is always personal
  • Faith is always public
  • Faith is always accountable to God

Truth:  Our personal obedience to God finds its accountability in the way we live before and with one another. 

Application:  Live knowing that every command of personal obedience from God finds its application in the life of the church and in the eyes of the world.

Action:  Ask someone in the church this week the bold and humble question that Samuel asked his congregation.

Sunday Recap for 12/31 Big Picture Question: How should a Christian plan for the future?

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On Sunday, December 31, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Psalm 90:

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

To set the stage for the Christian’s guidance in planning, we read these two verses:

James 4:13-15,“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” 

James encourages us toward humility in offering our plants for His will.

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

Proverbs 6 encourages us to plan and prepare.

With that, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

How does a Christian plan for a new year?

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • Purposefully Praise God
  • Repent Over the Sins of the Past Year
  • Make Plans and Offer Them to God

The context of Psalm 90 is Moses’ and the people’s sin as they approached the Promised Land.  The people grumbled, and Moses sinned in His anger, and God makes this declaration:

Numbers 14: 33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 according to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

In light of that, Moses writes this Psalm:

Purposefully Praise God

Psalm 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

God took away the Promised Land from Moses, and He declares that the Lord is His dwelling place.  For Moses, He knows that God is a better land.  God is better than any good thing that He might want.  Losing the land will be okay as long as He never loses God.  For us, as we plan for next year, we must make sure that we place God as the highest desire and satisfaction of our heart so that we will be content at whatever God gives us from His hand.

Repent Over the Sins of the Past Year

Psalm 90:7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Moses and the people had plenty to repent over.  What helps Moses to do so is a right picture of His sin before God.  In the light of God’s presence, we should all shrink before God’s wrath.  Rightfully seeing our sin that way enables us to number our days with a heart of wisdom.

Make Plans and Offer Them to God

Psalm 90:13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Moses faced an uncertain future – 40 years of wandering.  He had planned on enjoying the rest of the Promised Land, but now he will wander.  And as God fed the people will manna in the morning, what Moses truly wants is to enjoy the steadfast love of God each morning.  For us in our planning, we must desire God’s steadfast love as we consider anything we want.  That way, whatever God gives us, we know we will have all we need.

Big Picture Question:  How does a Christian plan for a new year?

Truth:  Planning for a Year begins best with praise, moves towards repentance, and then culminates in a prayerful offering of your desires to God.

Application:  Plan for next year knowing that God graciously forgives your sins and will bless you with grace as you plan for 2018.

Action:  Pray for God’s favor and the establishing of the work of your hands in 2018.  

Sunday Recap for 12/24 – Big Picture Question: “Who is the king of God’s people?”

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Sunday, December 24, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Luke 2:1-7:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

With those scriptures, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Who is the king of God’s people?

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • In the line of David
  • Fully Man
  • Full of Sorrows

In the line of David

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While Caesar Augustus was trying to measure the breadth of his kingdom, he was also establishing preparing to hand it off to an heir.  Little did he know that his efforts were enabling the fulfillment of God’s promise that the promised heir in the line of David would be born in Bethlehem.  In that arduous journey, the Savior of mankind was going to be born, a king in the line of David.

Fully Man

Luke 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

Our Savior had to be fully man as well as fully God.  The writers of scripture wen to great lengths to teach us all that necessity.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life

1 John 4: 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God

And the hope of this truth is that we now have a faithful high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, yet was obedient as we were not.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Because Jesus was a man, all the human experience is redeemed.  As Gregory of Nazianzus, the theologian who helped us understand the Trinity better than any other said, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”

Full of Sorrows

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Jesus, our Savior, was born, not in a home, but in a stable.  Mary and Joseph could not find a family to take them in, Jesus was born among the animals.  This was the beginning of a life of sorrow that culminated in His death on the cross for our sin.

Big Picture Question:  Who is the king of God’s people?

Truth:  Your King is Jesus, born in the line of David, fully man, and full of sorrows.

Application:  Live knowing that Jesus is the royal son of David who took on flesh, to pay the payment of your sin.

Action:  Resolve to honor Jesus in the coming year by sacrificing and serving someone who doesn’t like you.

Sunday Recap from 12/17 Big Picture Question: Who is the King of God’s people?

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Sunday, December 17, Evident Grace looked at Matthew 1:18-25:

(You can find the video stream of the sermon here.  You can stream the audio here.)

Matthew 1:18 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. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

We looked at this Big Picture Question:

Who is the king of God’s people?

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • He Refines Us
  • He is with Us
  • He Transforms Us

He Refines Us

Matthew 1: 18 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. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

In Mary and Joseph’s age, once they were betrothed, or engaged, they were legally married.  Because of that, once Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, he could have divorced her.  Believing Mary’s story that she pregnant of the Holy Spirit was too much.  Joseph couldn’t do it, so he resolved to put her away quietly.  Can you imagine his heartache and pain?  Can you imagine Mary’s?  She is innocent, yet accused of being guilty.

This is the way God works.  He refines us through hardship.  He places suffering in our lives so that we can be more like Christ.  Thankfully, in Joseph’s situation, an angel appeared to him and told him that Mary was telling the truth.  Joseph had faith enough to believe, and he had the faith to endure this trial in order to honor God and bring about the Savior of the world.

He is with Us

Matthew 1: 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The birth of Jesus, of course, means that the Savior was going to be born.  He would be the fulfillment of hundreds of years of waiting for this prophecy from Isaiah.  Unbelievably, even greater than the fact that this prophecy was fulfilled or that the Savior had come, Jesus’ birth meant that God was with us.  God would be present and never leave all those who faith in Him.

He transforms us.

Matthew 1: 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

What a transformation that Joseph goes through.  He begins these scriptures not believing Mary and ready to cast her out.  After trusting the word of God, he reconciles with Mary.  Additionally, this choice meant that he would endure public shame with Mary as everyone would have believed they had not waited until their religious ceremony to consummate their marriage. Joseph was transformed by the word of God and by believing the word of God, and so are we.

Big Picture Question:  Who is the king of God’s people?

Truth:  Jesus does not condemn His people to loneliness, nor leave them in their helpless condition.  Instead, King Jesus refines, transforms, and saves His people as He brings them close. 

Application:  Live knowing that Christ is present in your life, forever assuring you that you are saved.

Action:  This week, find someone new and demonstrate the gospel to them by meeting their need or spending time with them.

Sunday Recap for 12/10 Big Picture Question: Who is the King of God’s people?

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Sunday, December 10, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Luke 2:8-13.

Luke 2:8  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Who is the king of God’s people?

And we found these three answers to our Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Who is the king of God’s people?

  • The Ender of Fear
  • The Cause of Good News
  • The Bringer of Peace

The Ender of Fear

Luke 2:8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10a And the angel said to them, “Fear not,

An angel appears to lowly shepherds and the glory of the Lord fills the sky.  Rightfully, sinful shepherds fear in the face of God’s glory, but the angel declares, “Fear not!”  Why don’t they have to fear?  Because Christ is born.  The king of God’s people is born and will enable sinful men and women to be in the presence of the glory of God and not be destroyed.

The Cause of Good News

Luke 2:10b “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

The good news of Jesus is that the savior of people’s sins, Christ (the Messiah), and the Lord and King of God’s people is born – a good news of great joy!

The Bringer of Peace

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Those who have faith in Jesus are those with whom God is well pleased.  For all of those who have that faith, then they will enjoy peace with God and have the ability to be at peace with others.

Big Picture Question:  Who is the king of God’s people?

Truth:  The good news of King Jesus brings a fearless peace between you and God.

Application:  Live fearlessly knowing that the good news of Jesus is that He was born to bring you into peace with God.

Action: Find an area in your life where you are struggling with a faithful, but peaceful, choice.  Pray for God’s grace to faithfully make that choice. 

Sunday Recap 12/03: Who is the King of God’s people?

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Sunday, December 3, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Isaiah 9:1-7 as a part of our “Seeking a Better (King)dom” series.

1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.  3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy, they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

From those scriptures, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Who is the King of God’s people?

And we found these three answers:

  • The Redeemer of Anguish
  • The Bringer of Light
  • The Establisher of Peace

The Redeemer of Anguish

Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The image of crossing over the Jordan was common language to the people of Israel.  It signified walking into blessing and the promises of God.  The coming Savior was going to bring that to them:  the end of gloom and a new and glorious way.

This is akin to when God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt.

Exodus 2: 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

When God’s people anguish and moan, God responds by being faithful.

Bringer of Light

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.  3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy, they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6a For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder

The promised Savior, deliverer, king will be born as a child.  His government will find no end.  He will bring the people out of spirit darkness.  Ultimately, He will bring His people into the spiritual light and circumstantial light.  Jesus, born as a child, would do this.  For His people.

Establisher of Peace

Isaiah 9:6b And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

God is zealous to save His people.  So much so, He sent His son Jesus to bring peace and uphold justice by dying for their sins and rising again to new light.

Big Picture Question:  Who is the King of God’s people?

Truth:  Jesus is the King who redeems the anguish of His people by bringing light and peace to their lives.  

Application:  Live knowing that your heart finds its hope from anguish and conflict in Jesus your king.

Action:  Partner with the church to both demonstrate and proclaim Jesus’ birth as the deliverance and hope that this world desperately needs.  Bring us ideas of outreach and service.

Sunday Recap for 11/26 Big Picture Question: How does God renew His people?

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Sunday, November 26, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 11:12-15

12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. 

And we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

How does God bring renew His people?

And we found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

  • Forgiveness
  • Community
  • Worship

Forgiveness   

1 Samuel 11:12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.”

The people of God defeated their enemies with Saul’s leadership.  Prior to the battle, some men didn’t want to follow Saul.  Now that they are victorious, some want to execute those who were not faithful to Saul.

But through the work of the Spirit, God leads Saul to declare that no one would die, but instead they would be forgiven.

How ironic would be that on a day when God shows His grace and forgiveness that the people of God didn’t who it to one another.

Renewal begins by celebrating the grace and forgiveness of God.

Community

1 Samuel 11:14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.”

Samuel, the spiritual leader of God’s people tells the people to return to Gilgal to worship and renew the kingdom.  Gilgal is right beside Jericho.  This was the area that Joshua called the people of God to renew their covenantal vows in Joshua 8.  As the people of God embrace forgiveness they extend that grace to one another in community through covenantal renewal.

Worship

1 Samuel 11:15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

As the people return for covenantal renewal, they declare Saul to be their king and worship at Gilgal.  They make peace offerings with God and with each other.

When we are renewed, we worship together.

Big Picture Question:  How does God bring renew His people?

Truth:  God renews His people as they experience His forgiveness through worshiping communities.

Application:  Live today knowing that each gathering of Evident Grace moves you closer to one another and closer to God.

Action:  Pray that worship at Evident Grace is a renewal process that draws you closer to God and closer to one another.

Sunday Recap 11/19: Big Picture Question: Will God defend a sinful believer?

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New technologies metaphor. Isolated on white

Sunday, November 19, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 11:1-11:

1 Samuel 11:1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.

5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’”

When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

We attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Will God defend a sinful believer?

And we found these three answers:

  • Yes, by His Spirit
  • Yes, by the dread of the Lord
  • Yes, by His people   

God uses His Spirit

1 Samuel 11:11 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.

5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.

The people of God are desperate.  Their enemy beat them, and the conditions of surrender were to have their eye gouged out.  Word gets to King Saul, and the Spirit of God moves on Him.

This is the Spirt of God moving for a specific task like we see with Gideon in Judges 6, with Samson in Judges 14, and with Zechariah 2 Chronicles 24.

For the believer, we have John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

God uses the dread of the Lord

1 Samuel 11:7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad.

The dread of the Lord falls on the people, and the become unified in action.  The dread of the Lord is a rightful fear and recognition of the holiness of God.  It has two reactions.  For the non-believer, it is being stricken with a fear and a hardening of the heart.  For the believer, the dread of the Lord moves you to action and unity.  Our action is repentance and obedience, and as God does that in His people, we are unified.

God uses His people. 

1 Samuel 11:10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

God uses His people as an act of defense for believers.  He has called believers into the church.  You are not saved alone.  Don’t feel up to the task?

2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother

Your God has this character.

Psalm 78 says, “38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.  39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.

Big Picture Question:  Will God defend a sinful believer?

Truth:  God does not abandon sinful believers.  Instead He defends them through a Spirit-filled dread that motivates His people.

Application:  Live knowing that God will defend you while using your experiences to make you more like Himself.

Action:  Pray that the Holy Spirit would enable you to both be more like Jesus and to encourage another Christian to do the same. 

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