Our church family here is a loving, close-knit group of Christians trying our best to live for Christ. We’re not perfect, of course, but we’re striving each day to let God’s Word be our guide for everything we do—in everyday life, at work, at school, at church. . . everywhere. Many of us come from different backgrounds, and we work in various fields, but we share a common love for Jesus Christ and His church and look for opportunities to share that love with others.
Maybe you’ve realized there’s a void in your life, like something’s missing. This podcast is for you. It’s filled with non-threatening content, that is easy to understand. We would love for you to join us someone for a simple worship service where we’ll reflect on what Jesus Christ has to say to our lives.
Renew a Right Spirit Within Me
Our theme for 2021 is RENEW, and on the first Sunday of each month, I plan to address a different aspect of renewal. This Sunday we’ll focus our attention on a famous psalm of David.
The background of Psalm 51 is his sin with Bathsheba and his being convicted of his sin by Nathan the prophet. [To appreciate the context and to get a feel for David’s remorse, you might read the whole psalm.]
David is devastated by what he’s done, and he desperately wants God’s forgiveness. Beyond the cognitive aspect of forgiveness (i.e., the mental awareness of his being forgiven), David wants to feel forgiven. He wants to “hear joy and gladness.”
Beyond that, though, he recognizes that his brokenness led to his sin. He knows it wasn’t just a momentary lapse of good judgment or a “weak moment.” He knows that something is messed up inside him, so he asks God to give him a “clean heart” and a “right spirit.”
Notice the repetition of spirit in these verses: “renew a right spirit within me . . . take not your Holy Spirit from me . . . uphold me with a willing spirit” (vv. 10, 11, 12).
David knows he needs renewal . . . specifically he needs his spirit to be renewed.
I suspect that’s a prayer that many of us should probably pray. “Father, give me a new spirit, one transformed and controlled by your Spirit . . . one that is overwhelmed by your beauty so that I no longer fall prey to the temporary but ultimately unsatisfying experience of sin.”
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Who Do You Say that He is?
Mark begins his gospel by making it clear who the subject of his narrative is: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Near the end he includes this confession–from the mouth of a calloused, pagan centurion: “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” (15:39).
And in all the chapters in between, he’s concerned about this one question: Who is Jesus?
More specifically, who is Jesus to you?
Tomorrow we’ll trace this theme through Mark and focus on the famous story of Jesus’ confronting his apostles with that very question: “But who do you say that I am?” (8:29).
In these troubling times, it’s more important than ever for Christians in our culture to know who Jesus is. Is he merely a good man? Is he just an incredible teacher? Is he the inventor of a new religion?
Or is he more?
How we answer those questions changes everything about the way we view life . . . how we navigate turbulent moments, the attitudes we display when we face uncertainty, where we put our trust and hope.
Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus to you?
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God’s Broken Heroes
Many folks in our congregation are reading through the Bible again this year, and most reading plans–including the one we invited people to join–spend much of January in Genesis. One thing that jumps out at me every time I read through Genesis is this: these people God called aren’t particularly good people. I don’t mean that they weren’t at times characterized by faith or that they didn’t grow in their faith. I’m just always surprised again at some of the things that they did.
A few examples: God called Abraham in the first part of Genesis 12, and one of the things about Abraham’s calling was that he was to be a blessing to “all the families of the earth.” So what was the first thing Abraham did? He went down to Egypt and brought plagues down on the Egyptians.
Jacob’s very name means something pretty close to “aggressively taking someone else’s place through manipulation or deceit,” and he pretty much spent his life living up to his name: stealing his brother’s birthright and blessing, manipulating people to get what he wanted, and so on.
Jacob’s 12 sons, the patriarchs of Israel? They slaughtered an entire village of people out of revenge, they plotted to murder their little brother but sold him into slavery instead, one of them slept with his daughter-in-law and got her pregnant then planned her execution, . . .
And so on.
The point here isn’t to glorify human weakness, but I think it helps us see an important truth about God’s work in the world: he works through broken people to accomplish his will. The main characters of the biblical narratives aren’t Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, or David.
The main character is God. How the story turns out is based on his power, not ours.
Perhaps we can learn from that. Acknowledging this doesn’t take away our responsibility to grow in faith and obedience, of course, but it should help us to focus on the One who is in control.
If the story of redemption from Genesis to Revelation depended on Abraham, where would it have gone? Or Isaac, Jacob, or Moses?
Thankfully, God’s accomplishing his purposes in the world depends on who he is, and that should give us hope.
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In the Beginning
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Wednesday Bible Study: The Wonderful Promises of God (Part 3)
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Daily Practices for Anxious Times: Serve
As I’ve previously mentioned, in December I’ve deviated from the One Word devotional reading topics and have done something different.
2020 has been a hard year for many people, including many in our congregation. Anxiety levels for some people are higher than ever. Professional counselors are suggesting that they’re receiving a record number of requests from people who are seeking help for various problems.
For December I’m preaching a short series called, “Daily Practices for Anxious Times.” I sense there’s a need for us to revisit some of the most basic and ancient practices of the Christian faith to help us recenter and to make sure we’re grounded in our relationship with Christ.
The first Sunday of December was about prayer, and the second Sunday was about Scripture. Tomorrow we’re going to talk about serving.
One struggle that most of us have is getting wrapped up in self, especially during difficult times. We focus on our needs and our wants and our problems, and it can become a pretty miserable way to live.
But Jesus calls us to a different way, of course. The best way to get out of our own heads is to become outward focused. When we find ourselves becoming discouraged, that suggests that we’re probably not doing much to help others.
Notice the progression: we pray and we read Scripture . . . these are vertical disciplines; i.e., they focus on our relationship with God.
But the corollary to loving God with all our hearts is to love our neighbors as ourselves, so our commitment to prayer and Scripture leads us to take action, particularly to benefit the people around us.
In our text for tomorrow, Jesus teaches us a fundamental lesson. Like the disciples, we can obsess over personal advancement and glory, but he directs us to become servants. And, of course, he sets the perfect example in how he lived and died.
So . . . every day, we take time for prayer and Scripture, and we learn to be intentional about finding someone to serve and bless. These fundamental attitudes and actions might do wonders in helping us navigate anxious times.
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Chuck Webster is one of my very favorite preachers. What a blessing to be able to listen to his lessons anywhere!