Dec 1, 2019
Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.
 
All themed slides, icons, and sermon titles from https://adventconspiracy.org
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  • Dec 1, 2019Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Dec 1, 2019
    Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.
     
    All themed slides, icons, and sermon titles from https://adventconspiracy.org
  • Nov 24, 2019Romans 15:1-13 “Final Thoughts”
    Nov 24, 2019
    Romans 15:1-13 “Final Thoughts”
    Series: Romans
    At the end of every paper is a conclusion, returning to the original thesis to either reaffirm or amend the author’s original thoughts and purpose for writing.  Before Paul begins his parting words, a more personal part of the letter, he too returns to his original premise for writing: that Jesus is the Son of God, confirmed in His Resurrection, and is Lord over the whole world, both of Jews and Gentiles. From the very beginning, Paul has been adamant about this point: the Gospel is for the Gentiles as well.  Here, at the end of his letter, he also reminds us that God’s love for the Gentiles isn’t some surprising twist in Scriptural writings, but has actually been the point all along.  From the promises to Abraham to songs of the Psalms, to the messages of Isaiah, each one foretold and celebrated that God’s mercies were and are for all people who believe! Questions to take home:
    1. Read Romans 15:1-6 again. Paul reveals the ultimate purpose of our acceptance of others, particularly those who may exercise their faith in Christ differently.  What do you think is the purpose of “bearing with” others, even in their “weaknesses”?  
    2. Read Ephesians 4:1-6.  Here Paul talks more about this notion of “bearing with” others and of unity.  How does this passage add clarity to Romans 15:1-6? Are there places in your life that you are/aren’t doing this?  How is the Spirit convicting you regarding this?
    3. Read Isaiah 2:1-5 and Romans 1:1-6.  As Paul draws together his thoughts in Romans 15, how do you see these two passages speaking into Paul’s conclusion?  As we transition into the Advent season, how do Paul’s words give you hope and peace?
  • Nov 17, 2019Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Nov 17, 2019
    Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Series: Romans
  • Nov 10, 2019Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Nov 10, 2019
    Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Series: Romans
    In every church from the very beginning, there have been people that have been in different places in their faith walk.  Truth be told, in Jesus’ ministry, we see Him interacting with people that were all over the map with regards to their maturity and understanding of faith.  From Pharisees to the woman at the well to Mary Magdelene the reformed prostitute, Jesus provides an example of love, acceptance, and even challenge in these relationships. Paul, with this in mind, applies Jesus’ teaching and example in the shadow of his own teaching on the command to continual (Agape) love (Romans 13:8) in the way that we interact with each other.  Specifically, he talks about how believers should interact with each other. Paul speaks at length about “Christian freedom,” how that freedom is governed by the command to love is precisely what he addresses here. Questions to take home:
    1. What are the images of “strong” and “weak” faith that Paul sets up here?  How does he describe them? Does any of that surprise you? How does it impact how you think about your own faith journey?
    2. Paul uses the example of “sacred days” in the exercise of faith, referring specifically to Jewish high holidays and feasts.  What do you think he is really getting at here? What “disputable matters” do we find ourselves quarreling over and how can we learn from this?
    3. One of Paul’s main points here is that “we belong to the Lord.”  What do you think he means by this? How does that impact how you think about your life and faith?  How does it change how you view others, particularly other believers?
  • Nov 3, 2019Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Nov 3, 2019
    Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Series: Romans
    Everyone has a particular way that they like to fall asleep.  Whether it’s pulling all the blankets over your head, reading a good book, or falling asleep in your chair watching TV, each one of us goes through the various motions of turning our brains off as we drift off to dreamland.  But how do you know when you are asleep? Realistically, though, we aren’t aware of our unconsciousness until you wake up. This is the essence of what Paul has been and currently is saying in his letter to the Romans.  Being “conformed to the pattern of this world” is much like being asleep. It looks “normal” and feels “normal” to the point that we may not even be aware of it.  Paul’s words here are like an alarm clock, jarring us awake to the realities of what a life surrendered to Christ looks like. Christ’s resurrection brought about the “morning” of new life and this is no time to sleep in! Questions to take home:
    1. Paul writes, “Owe nothing to anyone…” at the beginning of this section.  This one verse has carried with it multiple interpretations from everyday finances to forgiveness.  What are some ways that you would interpret Romans 13:8?
    2. Read 1 John 4:7-12.  Love is a word that, in our cultural context, has been infused with many meanings.  How does the Scriptural definition of love (“Agape” Love), as it is shown in Jesus, impact the way you read and apply this Romans passage?
    3. The imagery of darkness (night) and light (day) is not unique to Romans.  Read Isaiah 9:2, John 1:4-5, John 8:12 and 1 John 1:5-7. What does it mean to walk in the light, as in the daytime?  How are you doing that well? Where is the Spirit convicting you here?
  • Oct 27, 2019Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Oct 27, 2019
    Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Series: Romans
    From the perspective that we have as citizens of the United States of America, hearing Paul’s words at the beginning of Romans 13 doesn’t strike us as being too out of place.  Despite some of the disfunction, our government could hardly be compared to some of the dictatorships or other corrupt, abusive governments that exist in the world today. We are blessed to live with such freedoms and protections as we have here. It is no secret, however, that even the best governments in the world deal with corruption and acts in ways that are clearly outside of God’s desires.  Paul was writing in the midst of a corrupt government structure, not just to encourage Christians, but also to remind governments where their authority comes from.  We submit to governing authorities with an eye on the one and only, true source of all authority in heaven and earth. Questions to take home:
    1. Paul uses the word “subject” or, in other translations “submit” verse 1.  What does this word mean? Another place that this word is readily used is Ephesians 5:21-6:10.  How would you define the word “submission”? What is it’s implications in your life?
    2. Reread Romans 12:17-19.  How are verses 3-5 informed by the latter part of Romans 12?  Paul speaks of God using governments and authority as part of His judgment and wrath against sin.  How do you feel about this? Does it make you see things any different?
    3. Why do you think Paul felt it important to include verses six and seven with regard to taxes?  Read Matthew 22:15-22. What does Jesus have to say about this? Why do you think this is an important part of how we live out our faith in Christ?
  • Oct 20, 2019Luke 11:1-4 “Lord, Teach us to Pray!”
    Oct 20, 2019
    Luke 11:1-4 “Lord, Teach us to Pray!”
    Series: Prayer
    Introduction A. Why We Pray 1. God’s appointed way of ________________ all we need from Him – Lk. 11:9-10 2. Prayer is the key way we relate to God:  ACTS = Adoration / Confession / Thanksgiving / Supplication  PUSH = Pray Until Something Happens!  PRAY = P R A Y 3. Prayer is important for our spiritual…_ B. Jesus’ Disciples Ask Him How to Pray 1. “Lord, teach us to pray” – Luke 11:1 2. Jesus gave them what we now refer to as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ 3. Exposing our Evangelical bias – Brian Zahnd, Water to Wine C. Application: Learning to Pray Well 1. Follow the lead of the earliest church – Acts 2:42 (ESV) 2. Learn to ‘pray through’ the Scriptures 3. Challenged by the Muslim adhan (Call to Prayer) 4. Growing in our own prayer life
  • Oct 13, 2019Romans 12:9-21 “Sincere Love”
    Oct 13, 2019
    Romans 12:9-21 “Sincere Love”
    Series: Romans
    Some of my favorite movies find their scriptures based on a plot that involves both revenge and some manner of a romantic love relationship.  Often, the main character has been wronged or experienced a great loss at the hands of some evil force and, in his or her campaign for revenge, meets a person that they eventually fall “in love” with.  It is a basic plotline, but apparently it makes for good cinema. Neither of these notions, however, have much of a Biblical foundation.  Paul calls those who are “transformed by the renewing of their minds” to a Biblical definition of love for one another and a redefined way of thinking about our interactions with others, especially (and specifically, in this case) those whom we feel have wronged us.  If we have crowned Jesus as Lord of our lives, then we are called to trust Him with everything, even matters of justice for ourselves. Questions to take home:
    1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 have a similar ring to Romans 12:6-8.  Both are followed by statements regarding love in relationship to the use of spiritual gifts.  How is Romans 12:9-16 and 1 Corinthians 13 related and what are they telling us?
    2. Read Matthew 5:38-48.  What similarities do you see between Jesus’ teaching and Romans 12:17-21?  How does this relate to the perfect justice of God?
    3. How do you think the specifics of chapter 12 (right thinking about ourselves, being part of the body, appropriate use of spiritual gifts, being sincere in love, and revenge) are related to the main theme of the chapter: not conforming but being transformed?
  • Oct 6, 2019Romans 12:1-8 “Living Sacrifice”
    Oct 6, 2019
    Romans 12:1-8 “Living Sacrifice”
    Series: Romans
    All throughout my time in school, whether it was pre-college, under-grad, or seminary, I found myself in classes being taught things that seemed to have little to no impact on my life.  What I, at the time, thought of as the endless droning of teachers and professors appeared to (and in some cases) be worthless information that I would likely discard from my brain after the coming exam, if not before.  In my head, I was asking the question “So What?” Romans 12 begins the section of Paul’s letter that is dedicated specifically to answering the “so what” questions.  Paul has, in a number of places, already done some application work (see Romans 5-7), but here he moves into specific examples and statements about the impact of the theology he has been teaching on the lives of Christ-followers.  For Him, all theology has practical application because being in Christ means your life is and will be changed! Questions to take home:
    1. Why do you suppose that Paul uses the term “living sacrifice” rather than just “sacrifice”?  What do you think the difference is? How does this difference impact how you live out your faith day today?
    2. Read verses 2 -5 again.  How does the renewing of our mind help us with regard to how we think about ourselves?  How does the Holy Spirit help us in this process transforming to better recognize our place in the greater body of Christ?  How does this help us to better recognize our God-given Spiritual gifts?
    3. Are you familiar with your spiritual gifts?  Are you putting them to use on a regular basis in the church and in your life?  Two places you can check out are: www.giftstest.com and www.fivefoldsurvey.com.  Both can help you begin to discover your unique gift-set and how you can better put them to use in your life and building up the church!
  • Sep 29, 2019Romans 11:25-36 “Mystery Solved?”
    Sep 29, 2019
    Romans 11:25-36 “Mystery Solved?”
    Series: Romans
    Many people love a good mystery, one where the answer is right in front of you the whole time but you don’t necessarily see it until the end.  This is kind of what I think of every time I read the word “mystery” in Scripture. Paul has been working out the question of what happens to ethnic Israel now that Jesus has come; how do the promises of God get applied to them? As we have talked about at length over the past several months, God’s answer to His promises (and therefore the answer to Paul’s question in chapters 9-11) is Jesus.  There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to God except through Him. And, interestingly, this has been the case all along.  It was and is the Messiah of God, the one promised all those years before, and the grace of God received by faith that God’s people are called to, which ultimately made them the truest sense of who they are. Questions to take home:
    1. What ‘mystery’ is Paul referring to in verse 25?  Who do you think Paul’s statement of ‘all Israel will be saved’ refers to (see 9:6 and 4:16 for some insight)?  How do these two things fit together and why does it matter for us?
    2. How does verse 32 act as a summary statement for all of Romans 1-11?  When you think about others in your life, whether Christian or not, how does this verse measure the status of these people?  How does it change the way you think about them?
    3. We’ve covered a lot of theological ground in the last 5 months.  Paul pauses here before he moves on to some practical application to praise God for His infinite wisdom. Take some time, wherever you are, to pray and praise God for His wonderful gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
  • Sep 22, 2019Romans 11:11-24 “Sibling Rivalry”
    Sep 22, 2019
    Romans 11:11-24 “Sibling Rivalry”
    Series: Romans
    Road construction season is always a hassle for drivers.  It seems like, no matter where you drive, there are always orange cones and signs that divert you, taking you on a roundabout way to get to your destination.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just go straight from point A to point B? Certainly, but only if the road were intact. Paul describes Jesus as kind of like these detour signs.  While the ultimate destination, that being salvation, has not changed, Jesus’ seems to present (from the Jewish perspective) an alternative pathway to salvation.  It isn’t until we realize that faith in the Messiah was the right way all along to we realize that Jesus isn’t a “detour sign” but actually a warning sign that the pathway of “the Law” was never meant to be a road in the first place.  The question then becomes: do you drive full speed into the barrels or do you heed the sign and turn? Questions to take home:
    1. Genesis is full of stories about brothers.  Cain & Abel, Ishmael & Isaac, Jacob & Esau, and the story of Joseph.  In each one, the older takes issue with the younger, often stumbling over the blessing they receive from God.  How do Israel and the Gentiles fit into this paradigm? Can you see the church… our church… fitting into this paradigm?
    2. Read Luke 15:11-32.  Based on Romans 11, who do you think the prodigal son represents?  Do does it clarify the language of “jealousy” that Paul uses to talk about the Jews who did not believe in Jesus?  Where do you think you fit into this parable? What about HCC?
    3. Read John 15:1-8.  How do Jesus’ words here speak into Paul’s teaching in Romans 11?  How does the image of grafting, or the language of adoption Paul uses in Romans 8:15 & 23, expand your view of our relationship with God in Jesus Christ?
  • Sep 15, 2019Romans 10:20-11:10 “Remnant”
    Sep 15, 2019
    Romans 10:20-11:10 “Remnant”
    Series: Romans
    Elijah had just experienced a great victory against the prophets of Ba’al, seeing it’s prophets destroyed and it’s alters torn down.  Just when the reader would think that he was set for life, the wicked queen Jezebel puts a bounty on his life. Scripture records Elijah’s deep struggles with God, feeling like He has abandoned Elijah with nowhere else to turn.  God responds by revealing to Elijah the presence of a remnant. While the reality of God’s choosing these 7,000 people and, in His sovereignty, keeping them “for Himself” has a great deal to do with the concept of Election and grace, it also reminds us of something important: God is always at work.  Though it seems that the whole nation of Israel had turned against God, there was a group that had not. Even today, as we look at the landscape of culture and even the church, when it seems like so many are compromising and turning away, God is still at work in and through those that He has called to Himself. Questions to take home:
    1. 1 Kings 18-19 provides the context for the references Paul makes in Romans 11.  Read them. What jumps out at you? Can you relate to how Elijah feels in chapter 19?  How does God’s response there make you think differently about your difficult life situations?
    2. In Paul’s continuing discussion about Israel and Jesus, he makes the point here that, despite the Jew’s rejection of Jesus, God has not rejected them.  Salvation is available to them and God is still at work. How does this relate to you? Do you have people in your life that you are longing to see come to Jesus?  How does this message comfort you? What are you going to do about it?
    3. All of this, Paul reminds us, is a work of the grace of God and His commitment to fulfilling His promises.  Read 2 Corinthians 1:20-22. How does this statement relate to the rest of what Paul is saying here? What does this mean for your life in Christ?
  • Sep 8, 2019Romans 9:30-10:21 “Confess and Believe”
    Sep 8, 2019
    Romans 9:30-10:21 “Confess and Believe”
    Series: Romans
  • Sep 1, 2019Romans 9:1-29 “God Keeps His Promises”
    Sep 1, 2019
    Romans 9:1-29 “God Keeps His Promises”
    Series: Romans
    If you do your chores I will take you to get some ice cream." Maybe you've heard this promise given to you; maybe you've been the one to give it. Though it seems straight forward, kids always seem to try to find a way around it. At the end of the day, though, if the child doesn't do what they are supposed to, they don't get to experience the great reward that was promised.  None of us would blame the parents for not bringing disobedient kids to get ice cream if they didn't do as they were asked.
     
    Paul uses a similar analogy here in talking about Israel and God's promise. Do the coming of Jesus and the institution of justification by grace through faith mean that God has turned away from the people He called? Does this nullify the promises of God to His covenant people? No!  Not at all, Paul would say, it is the ultimate fulfillment of God's original intentions and desires for His people from the very beginning.
     

    Questions to take home:

    1. Paul says of the beginning of chapter 9 that he wishes he could be cut off from Christ for the sake of his people. What do you think he means by this? Is there anyone in your life that you feel this way about? How can you tell about God's love this week?

    2. Paul makes the point that in Jesus there is the fulfillment of God's promises, not the abandonment of them. How does knowing that faith and grace were the points all along change the way you look at and read the Old Testament?

    3. Take a moment to read the first half of Ephesians 1. How do you understand the concept of election, God's sovereign choice in salvation? Is it comforting or concerning to you? How does it encourage you toward missional living?

  • Aug 25, 2019Romans 8:17-39 “Reflections”
    Aug 25, 2019
    Romans 8:17-39 “Reflections”
    Series: Romans
    Pray Philippians 4:6-7 Ephesians 6:10-20 James 1:5-8; 5:13   Reflect Matthew 6:25-34 Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11 Psalm 139:1-5, 23-24   Listen James 1:19 (through 22) Colossians 3:12-17   Listening well leads to Reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:18 Ephesians 4:32 Matthew 5:9 (James 3:17-18), 23-24 Matthew 18:15-17   Thank Philippians 1:3-6   Focus Romans 8:31-39 Hebrews 12:1-2