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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.   

Sunday Recap 11/27/16 “How does Christ Serve Us?”

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jesus-servfesSunday, 11/27/16, Evident Grace began our Christmas series, “First Come, First Serve”.  In it we want to explore how Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection lead us to a life of service.  The book of Mark tells us that even Christ didn’t come to be served but to serve.  As Jesus came to serve, so should we.  From Luke 1, we answered this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How Did Christ Come to Serve Us?

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

In that passage, we found 3 answers to our question:

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

  • He shows us mercy.
  • He brings justice to an unjust world.
  • He kept God’s promises.

He shows us mercy.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.   50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

This is Mary’s song celebrating the blessing that she has to give birth to Jesus.  In it, her whole person (soul/spirt) worship God as she realizes that she doesn’t deserve such an honor.  And her realization of God’s mercy doesn’t stop with her.  She recognizes that God’s mercy is extending to generation to generation in light of the birth of Jesus.  The coming of Christ was a merciful service to Mary and us, and that is a great motivation to worship.

He brings justice to an unjust world.

51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

We live in a world where the unborn die, racism is rampant, and cultures clash.  It causes us all to cry, “How long?  What’s our hope?”  The birth of Jesus is the dawn of our hope.  Jesus will cast down the proud and raise up the humble.  The birth of Jesus brings justice where injustice exists.  He is the just penalty for our sins, He brings down those who use their power and riches to punish the weak, and ultimately, He will bring justice to the entire world.

He kept God’s promises.

54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”  56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. 

From the Garden of Eden, through Abraham, to David, and throughout the entire Old Testament, God the Father promised a servant Savior who would pay for our sins.  Mary knew that she was going to give birth to that promised Savior.  God was faithful.  He kept His promises.  And our servant king assures us that God is trusted and merciful.

We closed our sermon with these three takeaways.

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

Truth:  We were served by Christ through His mercy, justice, and faithfulness to God’s promises.

Application:  Celebrate Christmas knowing that Jesus’ service to you enables greater service to others.

Action:  Serve others knowing that you are to live out the life of service Jesus gave for you.

“First Come, First Serve” an Evident Grace Christmas Celebration

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The First Noelfullsizerender
Silent Night
Angels We Have Heard on High

These are the songs of the mark Christmas season.  They frame many of our memories and expectations.  In addition to these songs filling our radios and streams, Christmas is a time for the church to celebrate the birth of Christ.  That is exactly what Evident Grace Fellowship will be doing from the Sunday after Thanksgiving (11/27) until the end of the year.

So, what makes our Christmas celebration unique this year?  Well, our Advent series, “First Come, First Serve” will be centered on this truth:

“For Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 10:45

We hope that our celebration of Jesus’ birth will encourage and motivate us to see how we are now to live out a life of service just as the life of Jesus was a life of service.  Towards that end, we will look at 5 ways that Jesus served us so that we can do the same.  Those 5 ways will be presented in in the form of 5 questions:

11/27   How did Christ Come to Serve Us?
12/4    How did Christ Come For Us to Serve God?
12/11   How did Christ Come For Us to Serve One Another?
12/18 How did Christ Come For Us to Serve the World?
12/25 How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?

Please join Evident Grace Fellowship, and please bring a friend.  All are welcome, and all of our services will be highlighted with both traditional and contemporary Christmas classic songs.

You can find us each Sunday at 10am at:

Ron Rosner YMCA
5700 Smith Station Rd
Fredericksburg, VA 22407

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

Sunday Recap (How is our sin foolish?)

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img_3256Sunday (11/20/16), we looked at the interaction between the Jewish people and Pilate just before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.  We sought to answer this…

Big Picture Question:  How is our sin foolish?

And we looked at these verses.

John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

To answer our Big Picture Question, we answered it in this way.

Big Picture Question:  How is our sin foolish?

  • Desperation to look good
  • Baseless anger
  • Irrational

Let’s look at our first point.  Sin is foolish because of the…

Desperation to look Good

John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.

Amazing.  The Jewish people want Pilate to execute Jesus, but they won’t enter his home.  Why?  Because entering this Gentile’s home would make them ceremonially unclean.  If they are ceremonially unclean, they can’t take part in the Passover celebration.  The Jewish people are so concerned with looking good they don’t recognize their sin.  They want Pilate to execute Jesus, their Savior.  They are trying to look good and religious at the same time.  Sin is like that; our sin is like that.  We try so hard to still look good even when we are sinning.  How foolish.  But in addition to sin’s desperation to look good, sin is also full of…

Baseless Anger

29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.”

Pilate asks the Jewish people what accusation they have against Jesus that would merit His execution.  And how do the react?  They get mad.  They are offended that He would even ask.  They are angry.  The sin in our heart often causes us to react that way.  Look in scripture.

In the Garden of Eden, God created an environment of harmony and love in relationship with Him.  All that was withhold from Adam and Eve was something exclusive to God:  the knowledge of good and evil.  But man, in his anger, said, “You cannot withhold anything from me (a baseless accusation against the creator of the world)”.  When God rescued the children of God from Egypt and then they actually began their travel to the Promised Land, they got mad and said, “We would have better off as slaves.” (a silly baseless angry accusation).  When Moses got mad, he struck the rock in disobedience.  When Peter got mad, he rebuked Jesus telling Him that the plan for Him to die was wrong.  Sin is about baseless anger against God.

And friends, we are not immune to this.  Why should we be immune to the baseless anger of our sin when some of the godliest people, the heroes of our faith, weren’t immune to it?  When you don’t get what you want or you get mad at your spouse or your boss, you sin and you justify to God by continuing to sin.  And when Pilate asked these folks why they wanted Jesus to die, they got mad, and said, “We wouldn’t have brought him to you if He hadn’t done what was evil.

Friends, we must realize that our sin is rooted in baseless anger with something and ultimately, it is always anger with God.

And finally, not only is our sin desperate to look good and full of baseless anger, our sin is irrational.

Irrational

31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

Even this Pagan governor knows this is a sham.  He can’t find anything that Jesus has done, much less anything that He has done to deserve death.  He says, “Take Him back.  You obviously have some law that you think He has broken.  You judge Him.”  Sin is so foolish that even pagan Roman governors know that the death of Jesus is unjust.

But no, the Jews won’t have any of this.  They say, “It is against God’s law for us to put someone to death.  So, since we can’t kill Him, you kill Him” – as if that is okay.  That is completely irrational.   But, God used it all, even this irrational behavior to fulfill the promise of how Jesus was to die.

Guys, our sin is so irrational.  We justify it.  We look at the damage it does.  We look at the consequences, and we sin anyway.  We assume because nobody knows about your sin, that it really isn’t affecting anyone anyway or you justify a reason why it’s okay not to deal with your sin.

We closed with these things.

Truth:  Our sin if foolish because it is angry, irrational and desperate to look good.

Application:  Live knowing the dangers of your sin are not only met but exceeded by the glories and abundance of God’s grace.  

Action:  Apply Jesus’ goodness when we try to look good.  Walk in humility instead of anger.  Know and obey the scriptures instead of living in the irrationality of sin.  

And we ended with this hope.

Romans 5: 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you want to listen to this sermon, check out our sermon page.

Sunday Recap (What is a Christian Defense?)

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defense_imageThis past Sunday, we looked at John 18:19-24.  In that passage Jesus, having just been arrested, is before the High Priest Annas being questioned about his disciples and his teaching.

We asked this big picture question,

What is a Christian Defense?

Here are the scriptures we read to understand that question.
John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20]Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

And we attempted to answer the big picture question by seeing that the Christian life is

  • Openly Proclaimed
  • Elicits Hostility
  • Defensible

Let’s spend some time on our first point.

The Christian life is openly Proclaimed

John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.

First, Jesus has proclaimed his teachings, what he believes openly, to whoever would listen

As you think about your own life we need to realize that if there is any truth, movie, book, restaurant, that you love, it becomes part of your day-to-day conversation?  We tell the people in our circles what we are excited about.  I want you to see that there is a correlation between that and how much we talk about Christ.

Jesus was excited about his Father, the good news about himself and he shared it with anyone who would listen and especially with those in his circle.

As you think about your own life, is that true of you?  If not, why?

Second, I want you to see that there is a consistency to Jesus life.  What he believes and speaks of in private is what he confesses and speaks of in public.
He’s not putting on a show, acting a certain way….then retreating with the boy or girls to “let his guard down.”

We can often live wearing different masks throughout our weeks, 1 for church, 1 for school or work, 1 for home, 1 with these friends, 1 with those friends. Things we would never accept someone saying in one of those venues, we are making those very same comments in another. We need to own that, and begin to ask the hard questions of why that is the case.  Is it out of fear or maybe is it the desire to be accepted and liked? And then move towards deep heart change that comes from honestly coming to God with these questions and ourselves.

This openly proclaimed lifestyle elicits hostility.

Elicits Hostility

John 18:21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

What was already a highly charged environment now erupts in violence with one of the guards striking Jesus.

This is the same with us.  As we stand up for what is true, what is right, and what is good we will face hostility.  It may not be someone striking you but it will be in their treatment of you and in the words they will say to you & about you.  One of the reasons we don’t talk about Jesus, stand up for what we believe, etc, is because we will face hostility, right?  And honestly, we don’t want to experience that.  We need to be reminded though, that we are willing to face hostility for many things in our lives….our spouses, our children, noble causes – and wrestle with why we avoid hostility in one area while being willing to endure it in another.
The reason the church faces hostility is because it has the audacity to say that there is a truth that is outside that judges us.

The world has a lot of trouble with Christians because they won’t put it first (and won’t put yourself first even).

While you love and care for this world, you’re not on a side….and because of that the you can’t be trusted.
The reason is because your citizenship is in heaven, and in effect your root system has been transplanted to Christ….(That’s the analogy that Jesus is getting at when he is speaking to his disciples in the early parts of John 15 when he tells them that “He is the vine and they are the branches”)….no longer is the world the main thing that defines you.

All the things that often define and create an identity for someone (political party, social class, power, prestige, money, or anything else) —- no longer do for you, now that you are in Christ, because he is your identity.

And that is part of why the world doesn’t understand Christians.  And what people don’t understand, they fear.

Just because you face hostility for what you believe does not make it any less true.
Jesus still stands by his words in the midst of the hostility that is continuing to grow.  After being struck he defends himself with these words in vs. 23.

Defensible

John 18: 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Jesus is saying to them, “hey if something I have said and taught contradicts itself or is against God, bear witness to it.   Bring people forward that can testify to my words.  But if you can’t, why are you striking me?”  He is speaking to their hearts.  They are being ruled by fear and anger.  Jesus points them back to truth.   What they should be seeking after in the first place, right?  But what this interaction reveals, and what is often the case in situations like this, is that’s not the operating theme.  What they are concerned about is not losing control, status, influence.

He’s bringing it back to truth.  Notice that Jesus responds to them…he defends himself.

What I want us to see is that if someone questions your faith or makes an argument and you don’t know the answer guess what, I bet someone in our church does, like our elders and pastors.  Don’t let the possibility of that stop you from sharing your story.  How great to have a question posed and to have to think deeply about it, search the scriptures, ask your pastors and elders, and then come back to that person for a follow-up conversation.

You don’t have to know every answer to every possible question or objection to Christianity to openly proclaim and boldly and confidently live the Christian life day-in-and-day-out.  Even if someone asks you a question you don’t know.  It shows humility to be able to tell someone you don’t know or you need to think about that.  Speak truth and share your story – if you don’t hear anything else this morning, I want you to hear that.  Speak truth and share your story, that’s our your responsibility.  It’s not about being incredibly creative, reading, and researching every possible answer to every possible question before you can.  Speak truth & share your story.

Three quick takeaways from this sermon to consider as we go through our week.

  • As we start this new week I want you to start thinking how you can share your story, what God has done and is doing in your life with people you interact with each day/week.  That might look as simply as you inviting someone to church next week.
  • I also want us to stop being silent in areas we should be speaking into.
  • I want our church to be encouraging each other this week – towards that end.  I want us this week sitting down for a coffee or lunch with each other, being honest, maybe sharing how hard or intimidating it is to share your story with someone else.  I want us asking who she want to be inviting to church this week, for our Christmas service.

We too often hold the view that there is no way God could use us in bringing someone else to salvation.  That’s just a lie!  Don’t believe it, not for one second.  Boldly and faithfully go through your week speaking truth and sharing your story, trusting that God is at work.  Pray that God would bring many people to faith through our witness.  If you want to listen to this sermon, check out our sermon page.

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