“They shall his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” – Mt. 1:23
The reality of Christ’s coming to this earth to be with His people – to be with us – is cause for great rejoicing and reflection. Thus, it is such a good rhythm for us to pause each December to celebrate Christmas. So far in our corporate gatherings, we’ve taken intentional time to consider the joy and comfort His advent should bring. Tomorrow, we consider the theme of Hope. As we do, we will seek to consider the coming of the Messiah through Jewish eyes…as family history. And this is appropriate as the tale of redemption is our story. Indeed, it is our family history! So, I want to encourage you to prepare your hearts and minds to see the fuller picture tomorrow as we continue to dwell upon the meaning of Christmas. It is a picture that will undoubtedly fill us with HOPE!
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” I was singing along with Michael Buble to this classic today as I thought about the many things that are so great about this time of year. I love the parties, cookies, decorations, gift-giving, family time, and music, etc. But, most of all, I love the rhythm of remembrance regarding the coming of Christ. Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season.
Last week Matt helped us to think about the many reasons we have for genuine Joy as we consider the coming of Christ. Tomorrow we will consider the theme of Comfort. While it may not seem to possess an immediate connection to joy, I think that the path to the kind of joy that transcends circumstances must first pass through the comfort of God. As we consider this Christmas theme tomorrow, I hope that you will be reminded of the tremendous comfort that is available to you in Christ. Moreover, I hope that you will be motivated to spread it to those around you. The best present you give this year might be a hug…along with a heartfelt expression of love.
I hope that you’ve been able to enjoy the beauty of fall in these past couple of weeks. Trees turning fiery red or bright yellow is spectacular to see and another beautiful reminder of the goodness of our great God. Fittingly, these sights are also a reminder that Thanksgiving is upon us. But, I hope that Thanksgiving is more than a holiday for you. I truly hope that it is more than an event where we might be forced to come up with a few things we’re thankful for. I hope that Thanksgiving is a lifestyle.
I think that the book of Philippians could be subtitled something like “Thanksgiving Living”. So much of what Paul shares with the church at Philippi in this letter is aimed at a lifestyle of joy and thanksgiving. We’re going to consider this over the next two Sundays as we dive into Philippians 2:14-18. I look forward to studying this with you!
*As we enter this holiday season, let’s be mindful of the many in our midst who grieve recent loss. May our hugs, cards, words, and prayers communicate the care and support of our gracious God.
Billions of dollars are spent each year to keep our nation, homes, bank accounts, investments, internet, passwords, and our lives secure. We want to live with the confidence that we are safe from enemies who would steal, kill, and destroy. But, what about the ultimate enemies? What about Satan and all his forces of evil? All those billions can’t ultimately protect against him. What about death? All the money and supposed security in the world will eventually fail against this (nearly) undefeated foe.
But friends, we have access to a SECURITY that money can’t buy! In Christ, we are tethered to the ONE who has defeated death and hell and Satan! In Him, we have overcome the enemy who would steal, kill, and destroy. With the real Jesus, we have an abundant life that is full of joy and hope! The Real Jesus has made All the Difference and provides Real Assurance. This is what John has reminded us of in his first letter, and I, for one, have been blessed by it over these last several months. We conclude this study tomorrow as we look at 1 John 5:13-21, yet I hope we don’t conclude the experience of security. I trust that we will put the message of this portion of God’s word into a Belt of Truth that we wear every day!
We conclude Secure the study of 1 John today as we look at 1 John 5:13-21. We are reminded they we have access to a SECURITY that money can’t buy! In Christ, we are tethered to the ONE who has defeated death and hell and Satan! In Him, we have overcome the enemy who would steal, kill, and destroy. With the real Jesus, we have an abundant life that is full of joy and hope! The Real Jesus has made All the Difference and provides Real Assurance.
What a beautiful fall weekend! And hey, every weekend is a good weekend to gather with the family of faith to worship Jesus. As we open up the Word of Life together tomorrow, we’ll consider one amazing verse – 1 John 5:13. Having worked our way through the whole of the book of 1st John, we’ll be able to consider this standout verse in light of its broader context. I trust that in doing so, we will find this treasured verse to be all the more valuable for our walk.
Speaking of our walk, at some point along the way in our Christian journey, we will come across moments of disappointment, failure, and fear. We will journey through seasons of dryness or doubt. In times like these we need a Savior…in times like these, we need an anchor. 1 Jn. 5:13 beautifully reminds us that we can be very sure that we are tethered to the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Our heavenly Father wants us to KNOW that we are safe and secure!
“A Wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord…He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock and covers me there with His hand”
It’s a matter of life and death!
Hi friends! I hope you have had a great week and are eager to gather again to worship Jesus with brothers and sisters in Christ. Last week in our studies in 1st John, God showed us three birthmarks of authentic faith: True Belief, True Love, and a True Life (1 Jn. 5:1-5). In verses 6-12, John does a deeper dive into the centerpiece of True Belief, the doctrine of Christ. As he continues to battle against false teaching about Jesus, John wants to help his people have precision about the object of their faith…for he knows that this is a matter of life and death. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. (1 Jn. 5:12)
As we’ve worked through the letter of 1st John, we’ve seen the Apostle weave a web of security for the people of God…a web of security that shields us from the fears and insecurities that seek to hunt us down and rob us of the joy of knowing where we stand with Him. What a blessing it is that God desires for us to know and experience assurance and security in Him!
In 1st John 5:1-5, John brings the main points of this web of security together as he moves toward his powerful conclusion. I look forward to studying this with you as we gather for worship.
It’s time we had a talk about masks. Through the first 18 months of this COVID crisis, I have been so thankful to God and proud of this church family for how we have navigated the difficult waters. It has been challenging to be sure and yet the collective efforts toward brotherly love and unity in our continued worship of God have been remarkable to witness and experience. However, the recent edicts from our local governing authorities have posed new challenges to us and have raised new tensions in our midst. As Elders, we want to be honest about these and address them biblically, directly, and transparently. So, as we open God’s Word we will seek God’s eternal wisdom that imports so readily to our present day. Though the mask mandate will sit in the background as a pressing issue, the sermon will not fundamentally be about masks but about God, His Word, His Body, and our collective worship of Him! “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2–3)
As we continue our series in 1 John, we come to the familiar and yet remarkable text of chapter 4 verses 7-12. Here we find John once again returning to what is, perhaps, his favorite theme. The theme of love. As he grounds and motivates God’s people to love one another, John shows us the Source of love and then sets it in a Showcase. He then concludes with a statement that is both awe-inspiring and persuasive to our hearts. These are challenging days my friends. We need love…we must love one another. We must ever return to the source of love and gaze at Him.