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Sunday Recap (What is our hope for unity?)

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_one_imageSunday’s passage from John 17:20-26 was incredibly challenging.  Jesus not only commanded that Christians be unified, He promised that Christians are unified.  How could that be?  What hope could a disagreeing culture of Christians have for being unified?  That’s the Big Picture Question we pursued

Big Picture Question:  What is our hope for unity?

And these are the scriptures we read to understand that question.

John 17: 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

And to understand our Big Picture Question, we answered it in this way.

Big Picture Question:  What is our hope for unity?

  • Jesus gives our unity a purpose.
  • The world will know Jesus’ love through our unity.
  • We will more deeply know Jesus’ love through our unity.

First, we looked at the purpose of our unity.

Jesus gives our unity a purpose

John 17: 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Do you see what Jesus’ prayer offers to us?  First, it promises that the church is going to be one, just as the Father and the Son are one.  Believers are all united just as the Father and Son are united.  That united is ours, and the church learns to live that unity out in the day to day.

And what happens when the church lives out that unity?  People believe that the Father sent Jesus.

When Christians live in unity, people believe in Jesus.

When Christians stop fighting and start living in the unity we have in Jesus, people get saved.

Knowing that this passage promises that our unity helps non-believers come to know Christ, it is important that we speak about the various ways that we all can help bring people to Jesus.

One:  You can invite people to worship.  One of EG’s foundational principles is worship.  We value worship, community, and service.  And in our worship, we want believers to enjoy their salvation. And we want non-believers to cry out for salvation.  You play a privilege and a responsibility in that.  For a non-believer to cry out for salvation in a service, you know what has to happen?  You have to invite them.  You have to bring them. Invite your non-believing friends to worship.  They will hear the gospel.  And some of them will get saved.

Part Two:  you can share the Gospel with them.  I mean, you can purposefully talk to people about Jesus.  You can either get your bible out, which is available on every one of our cell phones, and show them the verses pertaining to salvation…Or you can share your testimony of knowing Jesus and being transformed by Jesus.  And God uses that to bring many people to know Jesus.

And the third way you can play a part in bringing people to Jesus, is what Jesus is talking about here. You can be unified with other believers.  Again, before God, all Christians are unified as we all equally share in the goodness of Jesus.  But in the practical, believers must seek for unity, and God uses that unity as a testimony of Jesus to the world.

Additionally, our hope for unity is that…

The world will know Jesus’ love through our unity.

22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Believers in Jesus share in the glory of Jesus as we share in the unity of the Father and the son.  Those gifts are acts of love from God to us.  As Christians live out unity, the world learns how loving Jesus is.

And that mutual glory enables us you, as mutual glory bearers, to be unified with each other.  God has forgiven you.  You now are given the glory of Jesus.  And as your sin has been overcome, as your offense has been overcome, as God has given you glory, you are now able to overcome the offense of one another.

As glory bearers, as glory possessors, you are able to be unified with one another.

As those who know Jesus’ love, we can love one another.

And when we can demonstrate that we can be unified because of what we have in Jesus, when we love each other in a unified, Jesus loving way, the world will then know Jesus’ love.

And finally, our hope for unity is that…

We will more deeply know Jesus’ love through our unity.

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

As we rest in all that it is ours though God, the Father, and Jesus, as we rest in the unity that we possess, we will know the love of Jesus more deeply.  The inverse of that is true.  If the church lives and tolerates conflict, then we will not enjoy the love of God.  We will be less intimate with Jesus if we permit conflict to remain in the church.

The world does not have this, according to verse.  The world does not have God’s glory, Gods love, God’s unity, nor the hope of heaven.  The believer in Jesus, the church, has all of those these things.  And the grace that we need to even attempt to try to be unified and know Jesus’ love is that Jesus just keeps teaching us the name of God.  Why that matters is this.  The name of God is powerful.  Knowing the name of God is knowing God.  God sharing His name with us is an act of love.

You know, in our EG Groups study of Joshua, we are seeing that.  And one of the keys to Joshua and Israel’s oneness before God is the promise of God’s presence.  And His presence is defined by God’s name.  This was the promise made to Joshua – “I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.”  In just 7 chapters, Joshua uses the intimate name of Jehovah 27 times.  He says, “Jehovah my God or Jehovah your God” 27 times.  The name of God means intimacy and love.

Jesus says to us, Jesus says to the church, I love you.  You are one.  And you will know the love of Jesus and the unity that comes with us when you know the name of God.    Guys, right now, start your individual love of Jesus.  Rest in that, and the greater you rest in the love of Jesus, the greater you will seek unity in the church.  Psalm 91 teaches us what it is like to rest in the love of Jesus and the name of God.

Psalm 91: “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

We wrapped our time in the scriptures in this way…

Big Picture Question:  What is our hope for unity?

  • Truth:  Our hope for unity is that our unity has a purpose that teaches the world and the church Jesus’ love.
  • Application:  Strive for unity with other believers knowing that you, and every other believer, is bound together by the love and glory of Jesus Christ.
  • Action:  Never ignore the opportunity to be unified, or to restore, unity to another believer.

Sunday Recap (What happens when the world and the word bump into each other?)

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protect-signJohn 17: 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17 discusses the difficult truth where Jesus promises that His believers will be hated by the world.  When the believer understands that, we are tempted in one of two directions.  First, the church is tempted to invite the hatred of the world by throwing truth without love at every person who doesn’t know Jesus.  Secondly, the world is tempted to live such a biblically quiet life that the entire world loves them.  Neither of these is what Jesus is talking about.  So, what exactly happens?  That’s what we pursued in our look at John 17 this week.  We answered this Big Picture Question.

Big Picture Question:  What happens when the world and the word bump into each other?

And within this passage, we identified 3 things that happen when the world and the word bump into each other.  

The world hates you.
You are protected.
You are made like Jesus.

Let’s look at each one.

The world hates you.

John 17: 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Jesus’ prayer for the Christian is that His joy will be fulfilled in them.  Jesus’ joy being fulfilled is completely different that our joy being fulfilled.  That means that our greatest joy lies in discovering and living out Jesus’ desire for our lives.  And part of that joy is Jesus’ sending Christians into the world just as He was sent.

Each Christian lives with an essential sentness that is the same as the sentness of Jesus.  And as a result, the world hates Christians.  This isn’t a hatred that is invited.  The world hated Christ first, so the hatred must only be Christ in the Christians.

What hope does the Christian have?  That’s the answer to the second thing that happens when the world and the word bump into each other.

You are protected. 

15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

How terrible it would be if the Christian was sent into the world by Jesus only to be left unprotected?  But that protection is not a protection from sickness, pain, and death.  Oh, how I wish it was.  But the promises of sickness, pain, and death are the promises of heaven, not of earth.

The protection that Jesus offers the Christian as they are hated in the world is a protection from Satan.  What that means is that the Christian will never lose their salvation.  The Christian will never lose their forgiveness.  The Christian will never lose the undying love of the Father.  That eternal hope is the motivation of the Christian, the hope of the Christian and the comfort of the Christian.

And as the Christian is hated and protected, the Christian is also made like Jesus.

You are made like Jesus. 

19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Jesus consecrated Himself.  That means that Jesus set Himself apart so that the Christian might be made like Him.  How did Jesus set Himself apart?  Jesus set Himself apart by His perfect life, His death on the Christian’s behalf, and resurrection to new life.  And that consecration is what guarantees that the Christian is going to be made like Jesus while the world hates him/her.

Being made like Jesus is promised and guaranteed as the believer is sent into the world to tell it about Jesus. 

So, what happens the word and world bump into each other?

Truth:  When the word and world bump into each other, God protects you and makes you like Jesus while the world hates you.

Application:  Jesus’ joy will be fulfilled in your life if you live knowing that you are sent into this dying world to offer it the life that is found in God’s word.

Action:  Stop being scared to raise Jesus up in this world. 

Sunday Recap (What happens when Jesus prays for you?)

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john17John 17:9-12 is both a comforting and challenging portion of scripture.  We hear Jesus praying some sweet prayers for us, but believing the things that Jesus prays is the challenge.

Be honest with yourself.  There are times that you feel alone and unprotected and perhaps even completely ineffective as a believer.  But Jesus says different.  This is His prayer.

John 17: 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

For those verses, we asked this Big Picture Question and answered it in this way…

Big Picture Question:  What happens when Jesus prays for you?  When Jesus prays for you,

Jesus is glorified in you.
The church is one.
You are guarded.

Let’s look at each of those.

Jesus is glorified in you.

John 17: 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

I love Jesus’ language here.  It is not just that you and I will glorify Jesus.  Jesus prays that He will be glorified IN us.  You see, we can fake glorifying Jesus, right?  We can say something or do something that looks good, but we also know that there are times when we don’t necessarily mean what we say or do.  But here is our hope.  Jesus is praying that He will be glorified in you.  You, as the Father’s gifted people of God, will glorify Jesus in your person.  This is what Jesus does.  It is our hope.  When Jesus prays for us, He is glorified in us.

The church is one.

11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Jesus is going to the Father.  He doesn’t return to the Father as a disobedient prodigal.  He returns to the Father as the obedient Son who has secured the salvation of His people.  And that obedience, not only purchases salvation for His people, His obedience makes those people unified.  Jesus’ prayer for you, make you and all believers one.  The church is one.

And that unity is just like our goodness.  You and I are 100% righteous and good before God because we have Jesus’ goodness.  But we still sin, so in the day to day, we are working to leave sin behind and be more like Jesus.  The church’s unity is like that.  The church is 100% unified because the church bears the goodness and righteous of Jesus. But in the day to day, we have conflicts, so we repent and leave those conflicts behind so that we might be more like Jesus.  So, just as we learn to live out the goodness that Jesus has purchased for us, we must live out the unity with other believers that Jesus has purchased for us.

When Jesus prays for us, the church becomes one.

You are guarded.

12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

And finally, when Jesus prays for you, you are guarded.  You can promise yourself you won’t be lost and you will be guarded by Jesus.  And if you need proof, look at how this played out with the disciples.

The disciples were a mess.  At times, they were racists, hating on non-Jews.  At times, there were misogynistic, hating on women.  At times, they even rebuked Jesus for being the wrong kind of Savior.   At times, they were power hungry, wanting Jesus to give them a place at His right hand when He came into power.  The only disciple that was lost was the one that God promised would be lost, Judas, the son of destruction.  So, Jesus guards the disciples and you are guarded as well.  Remember this promise, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you.

You are guarded.  You are protected.  You will glorify Jesus.  You will be at one with the church.  You are guarded.

So, we ended this message with these things.  What happens when Jesus prays for you?

Truth:  The guarded, unified church glorifies Jesus when because He prays for you.

Application:  Living confidently and peaceably knowing you glorify Jesus as part of a unified church.

Action:  Start living as a Jesus glorifying, not-easily offended guarded believer.  Pray that this would become your identity.

Sunday Recap (How is God generous?)

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generousAs always, it was a sweet day of worship yesterday.  We prayed, we sang, we studied, and we rested under one central truth:  God is good and generous.  That may seem like an obvious truth, but I will tell you just like I told you yesterday:  Our faith in God’s goodness and generosity is tested in difficult times.

Well, fortunately, we get to see Jesus detail for us God’s generosity.  In John 17, we read this…

John 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

And with those verses, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How is God generous?

We found the answer to that question in those verses in these 3 points.  God is generous because…

You can know the name of God.
You can keep God’s word.
You can know the truth.

Let’s look at the first point.

You can know the name of God.

John 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world

Knowing God’s name is not like knowing your neighbor’s name (and I hope you know your neighbor’s name).  Knowing God’s name is an intimate knowing.  It is knowing in relationship.  And God’s name is not merely knowing a fact.  Knowing God’s name is knowing God’s character, His holiness, and His will.

And who gets to know the name of God?  According to these words of Jesus, the only people who know the name of God are the people who God has given to Jesus.  God generously gives us, the people of faith, to Jesus.  And Jesus manifests (makes clearly known) the name of God to us.  What a gift.  What a giver, God is.  We may think we need so many things, and at times we do.  But what we need more than anything is to recognize God’s generosity and get to know the name, character, holiness, and will of God better.  Because as we do that, our character is transformed.  God gives, Jesus gives, and then, we give God glory as we are transformed.

But another way that God is generous is that now…

You keep God’s word.

John 17:6 b Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.

Jesus is thanking God in this passage that the disciples kept God’s word – they obeyed.  They believed in Jesus and obeyed.  And the basis of that was that God gave them to Jesus.  When God gives us to Jesus, we are going to be transformed.   We will now be able to obey.  Even better, we will want to obey.  You can ask God to help you obey, and He will answer that prayer with a “yes”.

Listen to the promise explained from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 7:9 Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Your Father in heaven will gladly give you, His sons and daughters, good gifts, and one of those good gifts is the ability to obey.

And finally, we saw God’s generosity in that you can now know the truth.

You know the truth. 

John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

You and I come to know the truth because God is generous.

God has given you the truth, and the truth is everything we know about God from the Scriptures.  He has given them to you, and when you read the scriptures, He is giving them to you again. God is gracious because he doesn’t leave you to just go find out everything on your own.

And I will also tell you this: if you’re in a season where you feel like you can just go find out everything on your own apart from the scriptures, you are running away from the truth.  But God giving you the truth is His grace to you.  God gives you the truth, and He is good and gracious He is a giver.  And because He is generous, you can know and obey that truth.

And we ended our sermon with this wrap up. 

Big Picture Question:  How is God generous?

Truth:  God is generous because you can know the name of God, you can keep God’s word, and you can know the truth.  

Application:  Living knowing that God continually gives you the ability to know Him, keep His word, and know the truth.  God never takes this from you. 

Action:  This week in struggle and crisis, seek knowing God more deeply before seeking for answers of what, when, where, and why.

Sunday Recap (What is the eternal life that Jesus gives?)

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untitledFirst of all, please know how great it was to see so many of you at worship.  We were blessed with joyful worship (I could hear you guys out there), and we were blessed with several guests at worship as well.

More than anything, I think we were challenged well by John 17:1-5.  We are moving into what is called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.  This is where Jesus prays for the disciples, and He prays for us as well.

In this prayer, Jesus is speaking with God, the Father, He helps us understand eternal life.  Toward that end, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What is the eternal life that Jesus gives?

And we specifically looked at these verses.

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

To understand what eternal life is, we approached it with these three answers:

The eternal life that Jesus gives is: 

His authority over all things
Our knowing the one true God
The glory of Jesus

In verse 12, Jesus speaks about receiving glory from God because Jesus has authority over all flesh.  And because Jesus has authority overall things, Jesus is going to give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him.  Friends, this is why Jesus can die for us.  This is why Jesus can be our Savior.  Jesus can be our Savior because He has authority over all flesh, and His death is powerful enough to pay for our sins.  We hope in this, but we also need to recognize that Jesus’ authority means that Jesus can and will do with our lives as He will.  Oh, He will save us, but He will also call us to whatever He desires.  That is part of living out eternal life.  We serve an all-powerful Savior who has the authority to do as He will.

Additionally, eternal life is knowing the one true God. Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, to know the one true God and Jesus His Son.  This is an intimate knowing.  It is not like knowing a fact.  Eternal life is, in the present tense, knowing God.  And knowing God means we will be transformed.  You cannot be in a relationship with the one true God and not be changed.  That’s why having eternal life is more than just going to Heaven.  It is that, but eternal life is being continually changed to be like Jesus as we are in relationship with God the Father.

And finally, eternal life is about giving Jesus glory.  God gives Jesus glory as He accomplished all that God, the Father, has given Him.  You and I are a part of that.  Our salvation, our eternal life, our living it out, is about continually attempting to glorify Jesus in that relationship.

We ended our time with these things.

What is eternal life?

Truth:  Eternal life is living under Jesus’ authority as you know God and give Him glory.  

Application:  Live knowing that every circumstance and moment of your life is eternally intended to help you know Jesus better while you give Him glory.

Action:  In every circumstance, seek knowing Jesus more deeply as you seek answers.  That is eternal life.

Thanks for reading this, and I pray that John 17 will continue to make an impact on you as your review these things.  I hope you enjoyed the sermon, and if you missed it or want to explore it deeper, you can find it online now.  I look forward to seeing all of you again this week and on Sunday.

Sunday Recap (How do the words of Jesus give us peace?)

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peaceThis past Sunday at Evident Grace, we looked John 16:15-33.  Those verses include Jesus’ well-known declaration,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

And while these words include a tremendous promise, Jesus has so much more to say surrounding them.  So, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

How do the words of Jesus give us peace?

And we answered it in this way…

Jesus tells us plainly about the Father.
Jesus knows all things.
Jesus overcomes the world.

As Jesus is speaking to His disciples, He begins to speak plainly, with no metaphors or figurative language.  This was not always Jesus’ way, but at the end, He wanted to make sure the disciples understood Him clearly.  And what does He have to say when He speaks clearly?  He teaches the disciples that the Father loves them.  They will be able to stand before the Father without fear one day.  Jesus will not have to stand between them, and they can stand without fear.  What an incredible promise for them and for us.  Those are words of peace – standing before God with no fear, no guilt, no judgment.

When Jesus says that, the disciples declare, “Now we know you are from God because you know all things.”  What a declaration.  Jesus knows everything.  Jesus is from God.  These are peace-giving words.  When we are confused about our lives, when we don’t understand what God has done or is doing, our only comfort has to be that our loving Savior knows all things.  He makes plans and directs our lives in God-oriented ways that our beyond us at times.  But knowing that He is from God, that He is gracious, gives us a hope and trust to endure. Knowing these words gives us peace.

And finally, Jesus tells them that He has overcome this world.  This world is full of pain, death, and suffering.  We struggle through it.  And while this promise does not say that we will avoid the pain and death and suffering, we know that we are eternally and spiritually protected because Jesus overcame our sin and the sin and the world by His death on the cross.  This is our peace as we move into a hurtful and sin-ridden world.

As the sermon came to an end, we concluded things this way.

Truth:  Jesus’ words give us peace because He teaches us about the Father, because Jesus knows all things, and because Jesus has overcome the world.

Application:  Living knowing Jesus speaks words of peace to you so that you do not have to fear this world and all its pain.

Action:  Pray for peace. 

Now having said that.  Do what God told you to do.  Read the Bible.

Avoiding the harshness of the above action happens when we think about this.  Jesus, our living word, becomes more real and more comforting to us as we study the scriptures, and we often lack peace because of our lack of loving God’s words.

I hope you enjoyed the sermon, and if you missed it or want to explore it deeper, you can find it online now.  I look forward to seeing all of you again this week and on Sunday.

Sunday Recap – (Why is waiting a good thing?)

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keep-calm-and-just-wait-25This week’s sermon tackled one of the most difficult topics in our lives:  waiting.  Simply, God commands waiting and promises blessings when we obey.  Yet, we want what we want when we want it, and that wanting makes waiting nearly impossible.  Towards that end, we asked this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is waiting a good thing? 

And we attempted to answer that question in this way.  Waiting is a good thing because when we wait…

We understand God’s purposes.
We understand sorrow.
We understand joy.

Our setting is Jesus’ explaining to His disciples in John 16:16-24 that in a little while, they won’t see Him (His ascension) into Heaven, but in a little while they will see Him again (His return).  The disciples are confused.  They don’t know what Jesus is talking about, and they want Jesus, their Savior, to stay.  They have expectations of their Savior (an earthly kingdom, kicking out the Roman rulers), that Jesus seems uninterested in fulfilling.  Instead, Jesus wants them to know the true nature of His rule and the true nature of what it means to be Savior.  In this, the disciples realize that Jesus, the Savior, is going to unfold God’s purposes before them, and those purposes are higher and better than theirs.  We too learn God’s purposes when we wait.  We may want our purposes now, but waiting teaches us that God’s purposes are the ones that our hearts need.  Waiting teaches us to understand God’s purposes.

Jesus knows they are confused.  So, Jesus gives them a few more details.  Unfortunately, the details aren’t incredibly comforting.  He explains that while He is gone, the disciples are going to suffer, and the world is going to rejoice as they suffer.  Like the disciples, we spend our waiting time wishing away pain and suffering.  Jesus, however, wants the disciples to understand suffering.  Waiting helps us do that.  And the value of understanding suffering is that we, as creatures, understand our Savior’s suffering on our behalf.  Waiting teaches us to understand suffering.

Jesus, however, gives the disciples two pictures.  There is a day when we will see God, the Father, face to face, and we won’t have to ask for a single thing because Heaven will erase all of our needs and suffering.  Additionally, while we wait, Jesus teaches us that if we ask for anything in agreement with His will (in His name), He will give it to us.  We are not left alone.  This picture of present and future joy only comes to us while we wait.  Waiting helps we understand joy.

We ended our sermon in this way.

Truth:  Waiting is a good thing because as we wait, we understand God’s purposes, we understand sorrow, and we understand joy.
Application:  Live knowing, that in the waiting, we are most able to love and trust Jesus.  
Action:  Pray that God would make the waiting in your life sweet and joyful even if you suffer.

I hope you enjoyed the sermon, and if you missed it or want to explore it deeper, you can find it online now.  I look forward to seeing all of you again this week and on Sunday.

Sunday Recap – (How do we bear the weight that burdens us?)

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14249115_10155191846612995_568409743_nWow, Labor Day Sunday, the pastor with no voice, and the sermon that nearly ate all of us.

If you weren’t with us, you were greatly missed.  Thankfully, we had lots of EG family returning from vacation and several first time visitors.  By God’s grace, I hoarse-croaked through the songs and sermon (still no idea why I lost my voice).

Why did the sermon nearly eat all of us?  Well, I first began the sermon two weeks ago, and I worked under the idea of a particular Big Picture Question.  Then I changed that question and wrote some more.  Finally, I realized the emphasis of the passage was different than what I was emphasizing, so I rewrote the sermon with the following…

Big Picture Question:  How do we bear the weight that burdens us?

We attempted to answer that question looking at John 16.

John 16:4b “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  

But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

To understand how we bear the weight that burdens us, we answered the question in this way.  We bear the weights that burden us because…

The Holy Spirit comforts your sorrowful heart.
The Holy Spirit changes this messed up world.
The Holy Spirit helps you bear the hard words of Jesus and the scriptures.

Jesus is leaving.  The disciples are full of sorrow, and Jesus tells them a huge truth.  He says, “Guys, I’ve purposefully kept you in the dark, and I know your hearts are broken.  But, don’t worry, when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach you all things.  And just like the disciples, our hearts are broken.  We are full of sorrow.  Relationally, financially, and on and on, there are so many things make us sorrowful, and we bear the weight of that sorrow, but the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to meet us in that sorrow.  We must come to this realization before we can enjoy the connection with have of the Holy Spirit.  We have sorrow, we need help, we trust so many other things.  Realize that, recognize your need of the Holy Spirit, and then connect with the help that Jesus has given you to bear the burdens you carry.

Additionally, we bear the weight of the messed up world.  There is so much death.  There is so much bad news.  There is sickness and sorrow.  It is such a weight to bear, but in our passage, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit is going to change this messed world.  As you grow in knowing and being like Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you help change this world.  Your mere presence will help that happen.  And yes ultimately, the Holy Spirit will help judge this world.  There is hope.

And finally, we looked at Jesus helping us bear the weight of the scriptures.  Jesus told His disciples that He had so much more to tell them (the rest of the NT if you will), but they couldn’t bear it.  But the Holy Spirit would help them bear it.  And this is true for you as well.  We don’t avoid the scriptures because we don’t have time.  We think we can’t bear them.  We are afraid we will be reminded that we are wrong.  We fear feeling guilty.  But friends, return to the scriptures.  The Spirit will help you bear them.

So, there it is.  The sermon that nearly ate us all.  I hope you find with this summary, and on our audio online, a great hope.  If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can find it on our website.  I look forward to hearing from you and hearing how the scriptures have affected you this week.

Sunday Recap – (How does Jesus help you?)

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helping-hand

As for the sermon, we looked at the end of John 15 and the beginning of chapter 16 where Jesus was prepping the disciples for his departure.

We began with looking at Psalm 121 asking the question, “Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?”  This was the cry of a man who lost his home, his job, his church, and he could no longer care for his family.  Yet, in the midst of all of that, he cried, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

We meditated on that for a while to prepare us for our passage.  John was going to teach us how Jesus personally cares for us, personally offers us help.  So, with that, we tried to answer this Big Picture Question:  How does Jesus help you?

To answer that, we look at these 3 ways that Jesus helps us.  Jesus gives us…

Jesus gives us the gift of the Helper
The Spirit protects us from falling away
The Spirit gives us the memory of Jesus’ words

In the passage, Jesus is prepping His disciples for His death, and He knows that more than anything, what they need is His presence.  And in it, He gives it to them.  He gives them this promise with this purpose:

15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

The Helper teaches Christians about Jesus, and the Helper enables us to tell the world about Jesus.  It is a wonderful promise that we are never alone.  In fact, the Spirit’s presence is more personal that Jesus’ because the Spirit is always with us.  It is a constant and purposeful help from God Himself.

Additionally, Jesus goes on to tell the disciples how difficult it is going to be for them.  People are going to want to hate them.  In fact, people are going to want to kill them, and they will think that killing them will actually be an offering of worship to God.

Now, our times are not that bad, thankfully.  But we still go through tribulation.  What promise, what care did Jesus give to them and to us?  It is a comforting promise.  Jesus promises that we will never fall away.  We will be held by Jesus forever.  We will never tur4n away.  He says:  16:1“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.

And finally, Jesus cared for us by telling us that the Helper would remind us of His words.  Friends, our goals of studying scripture should include knowledge, but learning the Bible is also about being reassured of the sweet promises of Jesus.  The Spirit will care for you by bringing those words to mind.

We ended our times with these things.

Truth:  Jesus cares for us by giving us the Holy Spirit who will protect us from falling away, and who will remind us of the words of Jesus.

Application:  Live your life knowing that you’re never alone, that you are always protected, and that the words of Jesus are intended to be your comforting reminder of both. 

Action:  Boldly pray that God would make you content with the love of God, the care of Jesus, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.    

And finally, we spent a few minutes at the end discussing none other than Joshua.  In two weeks, we will launch our (eg)Groups for the Fall, and we will be studying the book of Joshua.

Joshua took over leading the people of God from Moses.  His job was to take them into the Promised Land.  Can you imagine how challenging of a task that might have been?  Moses is a giant of our faith.  But in the daunting task, what did God promises Joshua?  He didn’t promise him that everything was going to be fine.  He didn’t promise Him a life free from worry.  He promised His presence when God said,

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Friends, you are continually loved by God.  He is always with you.  thanks so much for Sunday.  If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can find it on our website.  And I look forward to interacting with you this week.

Sunday Recap – 8/7 (What is the gift of encouragement?)

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therefore-encourageHere we are with only one sermon to go in our spiritual gifts series.  I’ve enjoyed it, and I’ve enjoyed the follow up conversations even more.  Again, feel free to reach out to me if you want to interact.

This week’s spiritual gift is the gift of encouragement.  While the gift is mentioned in several places, we read Romans 12:

Romans 12:6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

And we pursued these thoughts…

Big Picture Question:  How does God gift encouragers to the church?  God gifts encouragers to the church who are…

Risk-takers
Culturally aware
Bold

To find these thoughts, we looked at a passage from Acts 15.  There the Apostles were addressing a concern in the church of Antioch.  Jewish and Gentile Christians were interacting for the first time, and the Jewish Christians were trying to get the Gentiles to begin following the law.

So, they sent some risk-takers to encourage the church.  They send Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas to speak to the church.  The Apostles have to figure how to keep this situation from causing a divide in the church that might never be repaired.  So much is at risk.  Encouragement is always a risk.

Second, these encouragers are culturally aware.  They have to figure out a way for these two cultures to co-exist.  So, they look at the situation, and they place a small burden on the both parties.  The Jewish Christians are going to have to realize that the Gentiles are not going to begin obeying the whole law. And the Gentile Christians are going to need to eat a bit differently around the Jewish believers.  They need to be culturally aware and be careful about eating certain ways.

And then boldly, these 4 go and present this information to the church, and guess what?  The church received it as an encouragement, and they rejoiced.

There was so much more said in the sermon, but we wrapped it up in this way:

Truth:  God gives encouragers to the church who are risk-takers, who are culturally aware, and who are bold so that the people of God would be reminded of the grace, love and call of God in their lives.

Application:  Live knowing that God has placed you in the church to give encouragement, receive encouragement, and to forever learn how to do both in grace and humility.  

Actions: 

One:  Today and this week, pray that God would show you specific people and specific ways in which you can be an encouragement to someone who needs it.   

Two:  Trust that others are doing the same for you. 

Three:  And pray the God would gift encouragers in this church so that we may all be encouraged in the hope that is ours in church.

If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can find it on our website.  And I look forward to interacting with you this week.

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