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Sunday Recap for 02/05:  “How Does God Protect Believers?”

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Sunday, February 5, we look at Micah 5:7-9 and asked this question:

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers?

Micah 5:7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers?

  • The church will refresh the world
  • The church will be victorious
  • The church will be eternally safe

The church will refresh the world.

Micah 5:7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man.

The intention of God is that He has set apart His people to refresh the world.  Morning dew and showers are a picture of God’s blessing, and God has sent His people to refresh the world.

We do it with mercy.
We do it with kind words.
We do it by proclaiming Jesus Christ.

We need to reclaim the conversations of the world.  We have forfeited them to arguing and hate speech (even succumbing to them ourselves.).  But God sends the church into the world to refresh it.

The church will be victorious.

8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.

No other institution on this planet is going to be victorious like the church.  Ephesians 5 tells us that God purchased the church by giving Jesus as a sacrifice so that He might make her beautiful.

This will not happen for our government.
This will not happen to our families.
Only the church is called to be victorious in the world.

Protected, the church must victoriously go forward proclaiming Jesus.

The church will be eternally safe.

9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

Friends, just as in Micah’s day, we are eternally safe, so we go forward protected and thankful into the world.

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers? 

Truth:  God protects believers as we victoriously and safely refresh the world.

Application:  Live victoriously knowing God will protect you as you refresh the world with the grace of Jesus Christ.

Action:  Speak about the grace of Jesus boldy to someone this week…or at least invite them to worship.

Sunday Recap for 01/29/17:  “Why is Personal Peace So Difficult?”

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This past Sunday, we continued in our “Micah:  Heart of God” series”.  In our passage, we asked this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

And we answered our Big Picture Question in this way:

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

  • Change is painful.
  • God’s wisdom is greater than ours.
  • Peace requires faith.

Our first answer came from Micah 4

Change is painful.

Micah 4:8 And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.  9 Now why do you cry aloud?  Is there no king in you?  Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor?  10 Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon.  There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. 

Israel was in the in-between time of God’s judgment.  In those in-between times is when we struggle the most with peace.  As Israel struggled with peace, they are recognizing that to draw near to God is going to required great change.  And they appear not to be ready.  So, God begins asking them how all the other things that they have trusted have turned out.

Their counselors?

Their priests?

Everything but God?  It has all turned out badly.

And their flirting has gotten them pregnant…but pregnant with judgment.  God is going to hand them over to the Babylonians.  Yet even, God will save them from their enemies ultimately.

Change is hard.  Our fighting it, robs us of peace.  God is gracious.

God’s wisdom is greater than ours.

11 Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.  13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.

God lays out a plan for His people that they could never imagine.  While they are being disciplined, while they are being taken captive, that is when God promises to deliver them as they never could have been imagined.  God promises to utterly defeat His people’s enemies.

Friends in our struggle with peace, we have to trust God’s wisdom.  His is greater than ours, but trusting it is the hard part.  Just as God did great things with His people in that time, He works no less mightily on your behalf.

Peace Requires Faith

5:1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 2  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.  3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.  4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.  5 And he shall be their peace

God promises a great shepherd, Jesus Christ, to ultimately come to rescue His people, and from all places, God is going to bring Him from Bethlehem, an inconsequential city.  Friends, the peace that God promised here requires great faith.  And the Savior, Jesus, is your peace.

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

Truth:  Faith in the security of God’s wisdom during changing times gives us personal peace.

Application:  Live knowing that we must constantly seek peace by having faith in God’s wisdom.

Action:  Take a step of faith this week that forces you to trust God more than trusting yourself.

Sunday Recap for 01/22/17:  “How Can We Be Expectant and not Entitled?”

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This Sunday, we looked at Micah 3 and a portion of Micah 4, and in it, we pursued the difference between an entitled heart and an expectant.  With that, we pursued answering this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

And we found these three answers to that question in our text:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

  • Be thankful
  • Be hopeful
  • Be worshipful

Let’s look at our first answer to our Big Picture Question.

Be thankful

Micah 3:1 And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?—2 you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people and their flesh from off their bones 3 who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces and chop them up like meat in a pot, like flesh in a cauldron. 4 Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil. 5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.  6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination.  The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.

Things are so bad in Israel that the priests are abusing the people.  God describes it as if the priests see the people as ingredients for their stew.  And instead of the priests repenting, they continue to cry “peace” to God.  It is a dangerous place to continue to cry “peace” to God while refusing to repent.  But God promises to step in.  God won’t take it anymore.

Those who continue in their sin and continue to abuse the people live entitled as if God doesn’t care.  But the people of God can be thankful.  Their expectancy is that God will step in and protect them.

Be hopeful

8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, 10 who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity.  11 Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord in the midst of us?  No disaster shall come upon us.”  12 Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. 

Expectancy is about hope…a hope that God is going to step in and rescue.  The days of Israel are even worse than in the first passage.  The judges rule through bribes.  The priests teach for money.  The prophets prophecy for money.  And all of these people have an entitled spirit assuming that no disaster will come upon them.

But the expectant hope of God’s people was that God would put those things to an end.  God declares in verse 12 that God would bring an end to the oppression. Just as Psalm 64, the cry of “How long” rose up, and God responds.  This is the hope of God’s people.  No matter the day, the circumstance, or the government, the people of God can live in an expectant hope of God’s rescue.

Be worshipful

4:1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

God promises that there is a sweet day of worship coming.  For the people of Micah’s day, it was soon.  For us, we have the wonderful worship provided for us by Jesus.  But we should also have the expectation of a great day of worship that will be ours in eternity.

We finished our sermon with these thoughts:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

Truth:  We live expectantly when we worship thankfully and hopefully.

Application:  Live knowing that all of the blessings of God should cause you to be expectant of God’s work as opposed to being angry when it appears He hasn’t.

Action:  Examine every area of your life to see if you are expectant or entitled.

Sunday Recap 1/15/17:  “What is Our True Comfort?”

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Sunday, January 15th, Evident Grace looked at Micah 2.  Some of the people of God were oppressed as other Israelites were stealing their land.  God responded, and in Micah 2, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

We read all of Micah 2 to answer that question.

2:1 Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.  2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  3 Therefore thus says the Lord:  behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. 

4 In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me!  To an apostate he allots our fields.”  5 Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach—“one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”  7 Should this be said, O house of Jacob?  Has the Lord grown impatient?  Are these his deeds?  Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

8 But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.  9 The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.  10 Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.  11 If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.  13 He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it.  Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head.

We found these answers in Micah 2.

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

  •  God Protects
  • God does Good
  • God Gathers

God protects

2:1 Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.  2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  3 Therefore thus says the Lord:  behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. 

4 In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me!  To an apostate he allots our fields.”  5 Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

The sin of the people got so bad that many of them were lying in bed, dreaming about the sin they would commit.  Ironically, they were coveting other people’s land.  Ironic because God gave them the land in the first place.  Even worse, after daydreaming, they would wake up and steal the land.  God in judgment promised to take away the land and give it to pagans.  Instead of repenting, they merely cried out for God not to judge them.

God serves as a protector because we would no longer allow His people’s land to be stolen.  It was time for Him to intervene.  He was the innocent’s comfort and His people’s protector.  But does more than just protect.  God does good as a comfort.

God does good.

6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach—“one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”  7 Should this be said, O house of Jacob?  Has the Lord grown impatient?  Are these his deeds?  Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

8 But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.  9 The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.  10 Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.  11 If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

Sadly, the priests of the day did not call the people to repent.  They preached sermons saying, “Don’t preach sermons of judgment.”  But the sin of God’s people was too great.  They rob the innocent and cast women and children into the streets.  The appropriate pastor for these people would be one who preaches getting drunk.

God equates the care of the innocent with worship.  You care for them, you worship.  If you don’t, it is disobedience.  God is going to put a stop to His people’s sin.  He will do good on their behalf.  We must too.  The church must stand and do good as now God makes His appeal through the church.

God comforts as He protects and does good.  God also comfort as He gathers.

God gathers.

12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.  13 He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it.  Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head.

There will always be a remnant who cries out for God’s protection.  And God as the shepherd gathers them in.  Jesus is that shepherd who gathers us in now to protect us and comfort us.  We now live out that comfort.

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

Truth:  My true comfort is that God has gathered me with His people to be protected and to do good.

Application:  Live knowing that true comfort in any physical or spiritual situation is provided for you in God’s work through Jesus and the His people.

Action:  Demonstrate the comfort of God to someone who is hurting this week.

Sunday Recap 1/8/17 “What is the Cry of God’s Heart?”

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To emulate the heart of God, you have to be transformed by the heart of God.  The book of Micah is a picture of the heart God crying out to His people.  Studying it opens our hearts up to be like God’s.  Towards that end, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

And we looked at Micah 1 to answer that question.

Micah 1:1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. 2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.  3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. 

5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not Samaria?  And what is the high place of Judah?  Is it not Jerusalem?  6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations.

7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return. 

8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.  9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.

We find these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question.

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

  • For us to be aware of His holiness
  • For us to be aware of our sin
  • For us to be aware of our need

Micah is a difficult time for the people of God.  Micah does not serve as a prophet very long, but he serves under 3 different kings.  That means there is massive political unrest.  Additionally, the civil authorities are not to be trusted, and the religious leaders focus more on the outward life instead of the inner.  This is a very relevant book for our day.  With that background, let’s begin answering our Big Picture Question.  What is the cry of God’s heart?

For us to be aware of His holiness

1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.  3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. 

5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not Samaria?  And what is the high place of Judah?  Is it not Jerusalem?  6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations.

The people off Micah’s day had grown unaware of God’s holiness.  They lost a right fear of His holiness.  They sinned and sinned, and finally, God said that He was going to come down off His throne, as a judge, to demonstrate His holiness.

The people of Samaria lived protectively behind a great wall.  They trusted that wall.  Yet, God said in a demonstration of His holiness against their sin that He would tear down that wall all the way to the foundations.  When sin continues and continues, the people of God must become reacquainted with God’s holiness.

And once the people of God grow aware of God’s holiness, then they become aware of their sin.

For us to be aware of our sin

7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return. 

The people of God were worshiping idols.  They were engaged in temple prostitution in “worship” to other gods.  And yet, they still offered sacrifices to God on the Sabbath and prescribed holidays.  God declared that He would destroy all of their sin in an act of grace to His people.

Growing aware of one’s sin is not a dread and awful thing.  It is an act of God’s grace.  As one becomes aware of sin, we also become aware of our need.

For us to be aware of our need

8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.  9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.

God Himself will weep and wail and lament over His people’s sin.  He will strip Himself naked and lament because the sin problem of His people is incurable.  There is nothing they can do about it to heal themselves.  But God can.  We see that in…

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

God’s weeping and wailing and lamenting is ultimately found in the person of Jesus.  He takes on human flesh to suffer as we do, yet He obeys, dies, and rises again for our hope and our salvation.

We concluded our time with this summary.

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

Truth:  We understand God’s heart as we become more aware of His holiness, our sin, and our need. 

Application:  Live knowing that God is using every circumstance in your life to teach you more about yourself and more about Him.

Action:  Imitate God’s heart of holiness and compassion to someone in need this week.

Sunday Recap 1/1/17 “What does it mean to be light of the world?”

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There is no greater emphasis we could start this new year with an emphasis of Jesus as light as we ask God to renew our hearts as we start 2017 – from the hurt, frustration, disappointment, or if you are incredibly joyful as you think about this past year…that God would increase that in this coming year.

As we stand in the gap of Christmas and our new sermon series, starting next week, we answered this big picture question, “What does it mean to be light of the world?

And to answer that, we read Isaiah 60:1-5, 10-16.

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

10 Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. 11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age. 16 You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

We answered that question by seeing that,

  • God is light of the word
  • You can be light to the world
  • All because Jesus is light of the world

God is light of the world

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

We see in these verses the imagery of the sun in the sky.  The word sun isn’t being used but God is being likened to the sun.  “the glory of the Lord has RISEN upon you….darkness….but the Lord will ARISE upon you”.  Then we looked at 3 aspects of sunlight, life, truth, and beauty/joy and how God typifies each of them.

Vs. 1 & 2 liken God to the Sun then goes on from there to a remarkable statement….that the nations will come to your light.  They show God rising on us and now we become light magnets and the world is drawn to our beauty.

What we see is that, You can be light of the world.

3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

What we are being told is that if the light of God has really risen on you THEN you are the light of the world.  The objective reality of God’s light becomes the subjective experience and reality of your life!!!

The light rises on us and then the nations are drawn to us.  We become the light of the world.  In the sermon on the mount, Jesus turns to his disciples and say what to them? He says “you are the light of the world”.  He says this to encourage and remind his followers that this is the reality for them.

We then went through those 3 aspects of sunlight/God from earlier and saw how we can bring life, truth, and beauty/joy to others.

We can do it all because Jesus is light of the world

Vs.10 – “for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you.” Vs. 15 – “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever” Vs. 16b – “you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

A redeemer was something very specific in Israel.  If you were about to lose your land and about to have to work off your debt by going into indentured servanthood.  You were about to lose your everything, you only had one hope….that would have been a redeemer.  In Israel that was a kinsman.  It someone who was a relative of yours.  They would come in and bear the cost, pay the debt and enable you to be free and in a very real sense ransom you.  And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us.  And when that reality takes root we are changed and it flows through every area of our life.

God is using each of us to help grow each other.  Let 2017 be a year of

  • Meaningful conversation – people you get together with all the time and often very little meaningful dialogue happens. Let’s change that and ask & share what’s really going on in our heart and life.
  • Great listening – we are often so quick to speak, correct, interrupt. Rather let’s plan to sit and listen, taking in all others are saying.  Let’s get off our phones and our attempts to multitask and be wholly present.
  • A willingness to admit mistakes – that means wrongful actions that you have done and also our avoiding of people that are difficult to love. Let’s be quick to admit our mistakes and our giving and receiving of grace in these areas.
  • Incredible action – As we think about the coming year let’s make bold insane plans that apart from Christ work in you, you would never be able to do.

Sunday Recap 12/25/16 “How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?”

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Christmas Day 2016, Evident Grace celebrated the birth of Christ joyously by attempting to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?

And to answer it, we read Luke 2:22-32

Luke 2:22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

And we found these answers to our question…

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?

  • He was born to obey God’s commands.
  • He was born to give us hope.
  • He was born so the world might believe.

He was born to obey God’s commands.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

When Jesus was born, His parents brought Him to the temple for a purification and dedication ceremony.  Mary and Joseph did this out of obedience to a command in the book of Leviticus.  This is important.  Had Jesus’ parents not obeyed, Jesus could not have been our Savior.  He would have been in disobedience even that early.  But thankfully, Mary and Joseph were Godly, and Jesus went on to obey all that God commanded for us.

He was born to give us hope.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Simeon was a Godly man who was told that he would see the Savior before he died.  When he saw Jesus, he knew that Jesus was the Savior.  He knew that Jesus was to be our comfort for our sins and the hope for non-believers.  We need hope for forgiveness, and all people need hope for a Savior.

He was born so that the world might believe.

27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 

Simeon knew he could die in peace because he saw Jesus.  But Simeon also knew that all people could now believe in God and be forgiven because of Jesus.  We should serve faithfully just like Simeon so that others can have that hope.

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?

Truth:  Jesus’ obedience gives us hope that the world might believe in Him. 

Application:  Live knowing that the birth of Jesus was the beginning of both your hope and the world’s.

Action:  Take Christmas to prepare your heart for great hope and great mission in the coming year.  Then…serve boldly.

Sunday Recap 12/18/16 “How did Christ Come for Us to Serve our Community?”

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Sunday, 12/18/16, we continued our Christmas series, “First Come, First Serve”.  In it we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve our Community?

And we pursued that question through 2 Timothy 1:5-12:

2 Timothy 1: 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me

And in answering that question, we found these three answers in the passage:

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve our Community around us? 

  • He gives us a fearless spirit.
  • He gives us a shameless testimony.
  • He gives us a trustworthy faith.

He gives us a fearless spirit.

2 Timothy 1: 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Timothy had a wonderfully, Godly family.  And Paul, the author, wants him to grow into that legacy.  Paul wants Timothy to fan into flame all the love and grace that has been poured into him.  Paul wants Timothy to begin living out this truth:  God has not given him (and you) a spirit of fear.

No earthly fear is from God.  Instead, God gives His children a spirit of love, power, and self-control.  Part of what holds us back from loving and serving others is our fear.  We fear rejection, we fear hard work, and we fear that our needs will not be met.  But like Timothy, we can live knowing that God’s gift of power, love, and self-control are much greater than our spirit of fear.

He gives us a shameless testimony.

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do.

Paul urges that there is no reason to be ashamed of what Jesus has done for us.  Jesus Christ was born to bring about the purposes and grace of God.  We have earthly reasons for shame:  our sin, our anger, etc.  But none of those things kept us from the love of Jesus.  He was born to take those things away.  And because of that removal of shame, we are not ashamed of Jesus.  We can proclaim Jesus and serve others knowing that He will remove other people’s shame, just as He did ours.

He gives us a trustworthy faith.

But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me

Again, there is no need for shame anymore.  Jesus, the object of our faith is true and trustworthy.  We can serve others and tell others about Jesus knowing that He will protect us until the day He returns.

We concluded our sermon in this way.

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve our Community around us?

Truth:  Our shameless testimony and trustworthy faith in Christ enables us to serve our community with a fearless spirit.

Application:  Live knowing that Christ replaces your sin and shame with a faith and spirit to serve others.

Action:  In 2017, help Evident Grace put an end to shame by serving those in need and those at risk.

And if you would like any more information about Evident Grace, you can find us at www.evidentgrace.com.

Sunday Recap 12/11/16 “How did Christ Come for us to Serve One Another”

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Sunday, December 11th, we looked at the 3rd of our 5 sermons in our “First Come, First Serve” series.  In it, we asked this Big Picture Question…

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve One Another?

To answer it, we looked at Titus 3:1-8.

Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

In this passage, we answered our Big Picture Question in this way.

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve One Another? 

  • Grace to Change
  • Grace for a new identity
  • Grace to do good works

Grace to Change 

Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  

What a community Jesus makes the church.  We above all people should be respectful of God-given authority.  We should speak no evil about others.  We shouldn’t fight.  We should be gentle.  We should be the most courteous people on the face of the planet.  Why?  Because God gives us the grace to change.  Before we knew Jesus Christ, we were foolish, disobedient, led astray and enslaved by passions, and we were given to hatred and envy.  But after knowing Jesus, we don’t have to be that way.  Every Christian is on the path of these promises.  No one has achieved them yet.  But because God gives us the grace to change, we have can love and serve others.

Grace for a new identity

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Here is Christmas.  When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, we were given a new identity.  When Jesus was born, we were given a new identity.  Jesus saved us not because of anything we did.  Jesus saved us because God is merciful. Through Jesus, we become a people who are renewed, made alive, and have an eternal hope.  Because Jesus was born, we have a new identity.

Grace to do good works 

8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Because Jesus as born, those who believe in God must be careful to devote themselves to good works.  Because of Jesus, we not only can do good works, we must do them.  We can love and serve one another.  Peter describes what that looks like in this way:

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

And we concluded our sermon with these things.

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve One Another?

Truth:  This Christmas, I celebrate Jesus gives me the grace to become an heir of God dedicated to serve others. 

Application:  Live knowing that since Jesus was born to serve, you are reborn to serve others.

Action:   Follow this simple 3 step plan for service: 

  1. Reach out to 3 people this week. Express to them why you appreciate them or that you would like to know them better.  Ask them how you could encourage them or help them with anything they need. 
  2. Next week, reach out to 3 new folks and follow up with the people you contacted the week before.
  3. Repeat until Jesus returns.

And if you would like any more information about Evident Grace, you can find us at www.evidentgrace.com.

Sunday 12/4/16 “How did Christ Come For Us to Serve God?”

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serve-godAt our December 4th worship service, we continued in our “First Come, First Serve” Christmas series.  In it, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come For Us to Serve God?

And we looked at this passage at scripture:

Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

We answered our Big Picture Question in this way:

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come For Us to Serve God? 

Christ came to save all people.
Christ came to make a unique people.
Christ came to enable good works.

Christ came to save all people.

Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

The great controversy of the early church was whether or not non-Jewish people could be saved.  But this verse specifically speaks to how the birth of Christ, the Grace of God appearing, means that all types of people can be Christians.  Paul described it in this way.

Galatians 3: 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise

Because Jesus came into this world, all people can serve God.  There are none that are beyond the grace of God.  Additionally, Jesus came so that we can serve God because…

Christ came to make us a unique people.

12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 

We can now serve God because we are unique in this world.  God works in the heart of the Christian to enable us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passion.  We can live self-controlled, upright lives.  And in the midst of the hurting world, we are unique in that we alone have a true hope.  We know that Christ is returning and will make all things right.

And finally, we saw that Christ’s came for us to serve God because…

Christ came to enable good works.

14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 

While we are zealous for so many things:  entertainment, food, nothing, through Christ, we are now zealous to obey.  That is possible because Christ has redeemed us from our sin, and we are now His prized possession.  That change of identity, enables us to obey God in this broken sinful world.

We ended our sermon with this summary: 

Big Picture Question:  How did Christ Come for Us to Serve God?

Truth:  Christ came to so that all people can serve God as a unique people who are enabled to good works.

Application:  Live knowing that Jesus came so that you may experience the love of God which enables you able to serve God as His prized possession, specifically gifted to do good works.

Action:  Preach to your heart that God will use you to change this world through your good works because you are God’s prized possession.   

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