Apr 4, 2021
Luke 24:1-11; John 20:3-10 “Why Jesus’ Resurrection is Important”
Series: Apologetics
Thoughts for Reflection: Jesus-followers talk at length about the death of Jesus.  For many of us, we believe Jesus’ death is the main event of Holy Week.  We say, and rightly so, that He died for our sins; through His blood we are washed clean.  When we think about what God accomplished for us, we think of the cross.  Truly no amount of words or sermons can ever exhaust the magnitude of Jesus’ death. The great celebration of the Christian faith, however, does not revolve around the cross but instead comes three days later on what we know as Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.  Naturally, then, the question arises: “Why is Jesus’ resurrection so important?”  God’s answer, as we’ll hear this morning, is that the Resurrection of Jesus literally affirms and confirms everything about WHO Jesus is, WHAT He did, His victory  over death, gives us reason to BELIEVE and offers us the ASSURANCE of the HOPE of SALVATION now and forevermore. Questions to take home:
  1. When you think about the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, do you find yourself drawn more toward the cross and the events of Jesus’ death or the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection?  Why do you think that is?
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-28.  What are some of the major impacts of the Resurrection that Paul lists here?  Can you think of others that he doesn’t mention here?  Which of these great things do you find most resonates with you and why?
  3. How will you take the joy and hope of the Good News of Jesus' death AND resurrection with you into this next week?  What will it change for you and who will you tell that Jesus is alive?
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  • Apr 4, 2021Luke 24:1-11; John 20:3-10 “Why Jesus’ Resurrection is Important”
    Apr 4, 2021
    Luke 24:1-11; John 20:3-10 “Why Jesus’ Resurrection is Important”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: Jesus-followers talk at length about the death of Jesus.  For many of us, we believe Jesus’ death is the main event of Holy Week.  We say, and rightly so, that He died for our sins; through His blood we are washed clean.  When we think about what God accomplished for us, we think of the cross.  Truly no amount of words or sermons can ever exhaust the magnitude of Jesus’ death. The great celebration of the Christian faith, however, does not revolve around the cross but instead comes three days later on what we know as Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.  Naturally, then, the question arises: “Why is Jesus’ resurrection so important?”  God’s answer, as we’ll hear this morning, is that the Resurrection of Jesus literally affirms and confirms everything about WHO Jesus is, WHAT He did, His victory  over death, gives us reason to BELIEVE and offers us the ASSURANCE of the HOPE of SALVATION now and forevermore. Questions to take home:
    1. When you think about the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, do you find yourself drawn more toward the cross and the events of Jesus’ death or the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection?  Why do you think that is?
    2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-28.  What are some of the major impacts of the Resurrection that Paul lists here?  Can you think of others that he doesn’t mention here?  Which of these great things do you find most resonates with you and why?
    3. How will you take the joy and hope of the Good News of Jesus' death AND resurrection with you into this next week?  What will it change for you and who will you tell that Jesus is alive?
  • Apr 1, 2021John 13:1-17 “The Fullness of His Love”
    Apr 1, 2021
    John 13:1-17 “The Fullness of His Love”
    Series: Lent
    Maundy Thursday, April 1, 2021
  • Mar 28, 2021Luke 9:51-62 “Following Jesus”
    Mar 28, 2021
    Luke 9:51-62 “Following Jesus”
    Thoughts for Reflection: Our Scripture passage today follows Jesus’ transfiguration, a pivotal moment in His ministry.  From this point on, Jesus is laser focused on His trajectory toward Jerusalem, knowing all that awaited Him there.  From the beginning of His ministry to the end, Jesus is constantly and consistently calling people to “follow me”.  In each of these circumstances, this call is an invitation to leave their former life and commit to a new path.  His call is not for the fickle though, as we see today.   Following Jesus is not a one-time decision that is carried out when it suits us.  In many cases, we seek to get a person to “pray the prayer” but seldom do anything to follow that up.  Declaring Jesus to be Lord of our lives is not simply a decision made once; it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment commitment.  And we must count the cost, for following Jesus means going with Him to Jerusalem and everything that lies there for Him and for us. Questions to take home:
    1. Read John 4:1-42.  What do you make of the Samaritans’ rejection of Jesus here in Luke 9?  What is it that drives their rejection?  Are there things in your life that prompt us toward similar rejection of Jesus’ teachings & commands (or parts of them)?
    2. Read Matthew 19:16-26.  Consider the “rich man” and the three men in our Luke 9 passage today.  Jesus’ responses are specific to each of them, challenging them to choose between Him and what was ruling their lives.  What would Jesus say to you?  What is coming between you and following Him?
    3. Read Luke 14:25-35.  How does this passage emphasize what we have already read?  Contrast the different reactions of the disciples on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:28-44) and Maundy Thursday (Matthew 26:47-56).  How do the different reactions speak into this teaching on following Jesus?
  • Mar 14, 2021James 4:13-17 “The Enemies of Obedience”
    Mar 14, 2021
    James 4:13-17 “The Enemies of Obedience”
    Thoughts for Reflection: Christian obedience flows out of the Identity that is given us in Christ when we come to faith in Him.  It is not, as we have discussed, done out of obligation or with the notion that we can earn or maintain our status before God.  Obedience to Christ and His Word come as a grateful response to all that has been accomplished on our behalf through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  God invites us to see ourselves as He sees us, to live into the Identity He graciously gives us, and to then become what He has declared us to be. As we think about Radical Obedience to the Holy Spirit as one of the ways we will be driven to carry out our Vision of boldly bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to every household in the greater Hopkins community, we turn our attention to those things which inhibit obedience.  Fear, control, doubt, and presumption all fall into this list and show themselves as the opposite of discernment, trust and confident obedience.  This morning we will look at several narratives in Scripture that illustrate the importance of ridding our lives of these enemies of obedience. Questions to take home:
    1. We read several narratives about people who struggled with obedience to God’s direction.  What one of these narratives do you resonate with the most?  How is God speaking into your life through it and what is He asking you to do?
    2. How would you define “Radical Obedience” after what we’ve talked about over the last several weeks (Colossians 3:1-17, Romans 8:1-4, James 4:13-17)?  How is God urging you to make adjustments in your life to be more radically obedient to His direction?
    3. Would you say that you are “fully dependent” on God?  Why or why not?  Is there anything in your life that you need to alter to move toward greater dependence on God?
    4. Read Proverbs 3:4-5.  This week, I encourage you to memorize these two verses.  As you pray this week, ask God to help you live into them.  When you find yourself struggling, quote it to yourself and ask God for wisdom on how to handle what you are experiencing.
  • Mar 7, 2021Romans 8:1-4 “Radical Obedience: Trading in the Old”
    Mar 7, 2021
    Romans 8:1-4 “Radical Obedience: Trading in the Old”
    Thoughts for Reflection: Radical Obedience starts with a foundational understanding of who we are IN CHRIST.  As we heard Scripture last week, our identity as those who are IN CHRIST calls us to become what we are first by aligning our minds and our hearts on “things above.”  In other words, we need to constantly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to ourselves, remembering that we are saved by grace through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This is TRUE from the moment that we confess our sins to God and declare our faith in Jesus Christ. Our Christian identity is central for the activity of our lives.  Our Scripture today reminds us of these same truths: “There is, therefore, NOW no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST Jesus.”  This is a true and present reality that we live out of.  Understanding this means we aren’t working to get salvation, we aren’t working to keep it or maintain it, we are trying to fix it or improve our score before God.  We are operating in the TRUTH of who we are IN CHRIST and with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering our lives. Questions to take home:
    1. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10, 24-25.  What does this passage have to say about your identity IN CHRIST?  How do you get that identity?  Verses 11-12 follow with instructions on Christian living.  How does this ordering of things help you to understand the impact of your identity on your life?
    2. There are three great “Therefores” in the book of Romans.  Read Romans 5:1-2, 8:1-2, and 12:1-2.  What do these three passages have in common?  How do they deepen your understanding of who you are IN CHRIST and what impact that has on your life?
    3. One of the key points that Paul makes in Romans 8:1 is the fact that our identity IN CHRIST is a present and future reality.  Those who have passed on to glory are no more or less secure IN CHRIST than we who live in Him.  What difference does that make for you?
  • Feb 28, 2021Colossians 3:1-17 “Radical Obedience: Setting our Minds on Christ”
    Feb 28, 2021
    Colossians 3:1-17 “Radical Obedience: Setting our Minds on Christ”
    Thoughts for Reflection: We have been unpacking our Vision of boldly bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to every household in the Hopkins community through Expectant Prayer, Effective Evangelism, and Radical Obedience to the Holy Spirit.  Over the last several weeks we’ve talked about how prayer will fuel this Vision.  Today, and through Easter, we will be talking about Radical Obedience to the Holy Spirit and what that looks like for us as individuals and as a church. Radical Obedience sounds pretty… well… radical.  For us, this concept is not actually new.  In Christ we are a new creation and we are given a new identity.  For the Christ follower, we are called to BECOME what we already ARE through the Spirit’s work in and on our lives.  Obedience that is ‘radical’, from the world’s perspective, starts, as Paul says here in Colossians, starts with orienting our minds around our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord and then living according to His commands and our God-given new identity in Him. Questions to take home:
    1. Who are you?  If you were to list the top 5 things you spend your time and energy on, what would come out on top?  If your closest friends were to make the same list based on what they know about you, how would they describe you?  Is that congruent with your Identity in Christ?
    2. Scripture says that “since we have been raised with Christ” we are to “set our hearts on things above.”  Based on what we heard today, what does this mean for you?  What things are you pursuing in your life or in your family’s life that are not from “above”?  How can you reorient your lives to better heed this Biblical command?
    3. Read Matthew 6:24 & 1 John 2:15-17.  How does this speak into our Scripture passage for today?  How does it speak into your life right now?  As we continue to “return to normal”, are there other ‘masters’ in your life that should not be returned to?  Which ones and how will you avoid them?
  • Feb 7, 2021James 5:13-20 “Vision in Action: Praying Effectively”
    Feb 7, 2021
    James 5:13-20 “Vision in Action: Praying Effectively”
    Thoughts for Reflection: Every day at some point, after I come home from work, Bethany and I have a conversation about the contents of our day.  Regardless of whether it is good or bad, we take the time to talk through it and also talk through what is on the horizon for us that evening and maybe into the next day or week.  Though this is not the sum total of our conversations and communication, it is a very intentional connection point for us that, when missed, can also be somewhat detrimental… especially when it gets missed a lot. Prayer is a core part of our relationship with God.  It is communion with Him, conversation with Him.  In prayer we both speak and listen and as we make our requests known to God (Philippians 4:6-7) we also gain, through the Holy Spirit, a sense of God’s heart and His will too (Psalm 46:10).  These things in balance, along with the reading of God’s Word, work to transform our hearts and our minds (Romans 12:1-2) so that we better understand, desire, and pray into God’s will for us and for those around us (Matthew 6:10). Questions to take home:
    1. James begins a conversation on prayer by talking about “when” to pray.  What does he say here?  If you were to look at your own prayer life, how would it match up to our passage today?  Are there times when you are more or less apt to pray?  What are they?
    2. Why do you think that James makes a big deal about “calling the Elders of the church”, bringing other people from the body of Christ in to pray?  What benefits do you think there are in this?  Why do you think so many people don’t reach out for prayer?  What do you think James would say to that?
    3. James 5:16 says, “the prayer of the righteous person has powerful effects.”  What is it that makes a person righteous?  Why do you think this righteousness is related to the effectiveness and power of their prayers?  How do these answers impact the way you think about your prayer life?
  • Jan 31, 2021Matthew 6:5-15; Acts 2:42-47 “Vision in Action: Exectant Prayer”
    Jan 31, 2021
    Matthew 6:5-15; Acts 2:42-47 “Vision in Action: Exectant Prayer”
    Thoughts for Reflection: In the next 7 years HCC will boldly bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to every household in the greater Hopkins Community through Expectant Prayer, Effective Evangelism, and Radical Obedience to the Holy Spirit.  Last week we laid out God’s Vision for HCC over the next seven years; today we begin to unpack it and it all begins with prayer.  Everything that the Apostles did in Acts and all the growth of the early church and the Kingdom was bathed in prayer and so shall our efforts be as well. Prayer is something that we all know we should do.  It is something Jesus taught about and modeled and something the disciples continued to do and to teach after He had ascended.  They prayed boldly & expectantly, believing that God would work mightily on their behalf.  How often do our prayers feel this way?  Do we approach the throne boldly, expecting to have God’s ear and concern or do our prayers default to rote repetitions with a faint hope that God might hear us? Questions to take home:
    1. Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4.  What does Paul have to say to Timothy about prayer here?  Who & what should be prayed for?  How does this encouragement match up with Jesus’ teaching on prayer that we read today from Matthew 6:5-15?
    2. If God showed up today and answered all of the prayers you prayed in the last week what would happen?  Would anyone new be entering the Kingdom of God?  How is this answer encouraging or convicting?  What changes do you think might need to come from this?
    3. Our first major goal in the HCC Vision is to meet our neighbors in the Village of Hopkins.  Go for a drive (or two) this week through the neighborhoods of the village.  Ask God to give you eyes to see things here the way He sees them.  Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  What did you see and hear?  How is God leading you to pray for the Village of Hopkins in the next month?
  • Jan 24, 2021Luke 4:16-21; Matthew 9:35-38, 28:18-20; Acts 1:8 “A God-Sized Dream”
    Jan 24, 2021
    Luke 4:16-21; Matthew 9:35-38, 28:18-20; Acts 1:8 “A God-Sized Dream”

    Thoughts for Reflection:

    God is a God of both mission and vision.  From the very beginning, God’s mission in creation was to love and live in relationship with humanity that would also love and worship Him.  When creation was broken through Adam and Eve’s sin, God laid out a vision to repair and redeem all of creation, because of His great love, through His mercy, grace, and sacrifice.  This Vision was realized by the death and resurrection of Jesus and a new Vision, that of a great multitude of worshippers and a New Heaven and Earth, recorded in Revelation became the new Vision of God to be realized when Jesus comes again.

    God’s mission, from the very beginning, has not changed.  His vision, however, has seen many seasons and shifts as God works out His will to its ultimate end.  Hopkins Community Church exists to connect people to Christ and Community; this is our mission and it has been a part of who we are… in our “DNA” for much of HCC’s existence.  Today we begin to lay the groundwork of a 7-year vision to boldly bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the community of Hopkins through Expectant Prayer, Effective Evangelism, and Radical Obedience to the Holy Spirit.

    Questions to take home:

     
    1. The terms “mission” and “vision” get thrown around a lot, yet they are not the same thing.  How would you say that mission and vision are different, and how are they related?  Have you ever considered what your personal “mission” and your current “vision” are for your life?

    2. Have you ever thought about what God’s ultimate “mission” is?  How does understanding His mission better help us to understand and participate in our Scripturally given roll?  What is our Scripturally given roll in God’s mission?

    3. How does God’s vision for HCC over the next 7 years strike you?  Are you excited?  Overwhelmed?  Skeptical?  What do you think it is going to take for us to get there and how do you see yourself as a part of it?  Would you commit to praying for HCC and about this Vision in the next couple of months as we start moving forward with it?

  • Jan 3, 2021Jeremiah 29:4-14 “Settle In”
    Jan 3, 2021
    Jeremiah 29:4-14 “Settle In”
    Thoughts for Reflection: We all have high hopes for 2021, especially after the year that we’ve just had.  You don’t have to look far, however, to see that any immediate change for the better is still fairly far into the future.  Whether it is mutated strains of COVID-19, continuing political turmoil, the moral degradation of society, increased tensions in the Middle East, or the general darkness of the winter season, pinning our hopes on something worldly to go right is ultimately a fruitless endeavor. When the Kingdom of Judah was dragged into captivity, having lost any sense of “normal” for their lives, God spoke to them words of comfort and reassurance.  Even in the swirling chaos that they experienced, God was there and He was still actively working in and through His people.  Rather than sitting and waiting, protesting or resisting, God encourages His people to “settle down” and live as His people in a foreign and hostile land.  Perhaps it is time for the Church to do the same and recognize that even though our world has “changed”, we are still called to the same mission, serving the same unchanging God. Questions to take home:
    1. What is one thing that you’ve been holding on to this year hoping it would return to normal soon?  Do you think that holding on to this has been hindering you in any way?  How could you experience freedom in your life by giving it to God?
    2. How does thinking about our current life as the “new normal” change your perspective for how you think about the things going on around you?  How does your view of God’s work in and through you change?
    3. We, the church, are called to be “Christ’s Hands and Feet”, to minister and proclaim the Gospel in the context that we are in.  What do you think needs to change for us if we are to do this effectively?  What about for you?
  • Dec 27, 2020Luke 2:41-52 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Mission”
    Dec 27, 2020
    Luke 2:41-52 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Mission”
    Message from December 27, 2020  
  • Dec 24, 2020Luke 2:1-20 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Salvation”
    Dec 24, 2020
    Luke 2:1-20 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Salvation”
    Series: Advent
    Christmas Eve Service
    Pastor Jon VanderWall Preaching
  • Dec 13, 20202 Samuel 7:12-16 “Advent: Setting the Stage for the Kingdom”
    Dec 13, 2020
    2 Samuel 7:12-16 “Advent: Setting the Stage for the Kingdom”
    Series: Advent
    Thoughts for Reflection: Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Kingdom of Heaven is one of the topics that He addresses most.  Often speaking through parables, Jesus explains what this Kingdom is like and how it expands.  This, however, is not the first time this sort of language is spoken of in Scripture.  From the time of King David, God puts forth the understanding that His Kingdom would be established on earth through David’s line, ultimately resulting in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. God tells David that his throne would be established forever.  This too points to Jesus not just as a relative of David, or as an exemplary teacher and moral example, but as the true King of kings and Lord of Lords.  So many New Testament passages affirm this position of Jesus, seated on “David’s throne” and at “God’s Right Hand.”  Ultimately, though, as we look forward to Christmas, we must consider what it means for us that the King of Heaven came into the world, when we declare Jesus as Lord and King of our lives as well. Questions to take home:
    1. What do you think about when you hear “Kingdom of Heaven/God”?  Where would you say you have learned the most about that?  How has that understanding been challenged or confirmed through today’s Scripture passage?
    2. Jesus fulfills three Old Testament rolls: Prophet, Priest and King.  How do you understand Jesus as your King and what implications does that have for your life and walk of faith?
    3. We talk often about seeing “the Kingdom expand” in the community of Hopkins.  What does that mean for you?  How do you envision that being accomplished?  How do you see yourself as a part of that expansion?
  • Dec 6, 2020Genesis 12:1-9; Exodus 20:1-21 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Covenant Promise”
    Dec 6, 2020
    Genesis 12:1-9; Exodus 20:1-21 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Covenant Promise”
    Series: Advent

    Thoughts for Reflection:

    Having set the stage for the coming Messiah, a Redeemer and Savior from the sin humanity has become bound to, Scripture then takes us on a journey. Along that journey God reveals how he is going to bring about this Messiah, what this Savior will be like, and how redemption will be accomplished. Through a series of covenants, God gradually sets the stage for the coming Messiah, His Son, and shows His people both their need for Him and what He will be like.

    As we journey through Advent and look forward to the Christmas holiday, we find ourselves thinking a great deal about the story of that first Christmas night. Shepherds and angels, wisemen and a manger, and a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. That’s what Christmas is all about, right Charlie Brown? But there is so much more wrapped up in those cloths than just an infant and the way that we understand and recognize Him, His Mission, and ultimately His deity and Holiness has been part of God’s work for hundreds of years.
     

    Questions to take home:

    What are some of the normal things that come to mind when you think about the Christmas narrative? Do you ever find yourself dismissing this amazing happening because you’ve “heard it before?” How can you intentionally work to deepen your understanding of the Incarnation of Christ this year?

    We read the 10 Commandments today. Read Romans 3:9-20 & 7:7-25. What is the connection to the Messiah here? How do these passages help you understand the person of Jesus Christ better?

    Ultimately, the story of Christmas is a message that we are called to share. How does our understanding of God’s word to “set the stage” for the coming of Jesus Christ help you better share the Good News with others?

  • Nov 29, 2020Genesis 3:1-15 “Advent: Setting the Stage”
    Nov 29, 2020
    Genesis 3:1-15 “Advent: Setting the Stage”
    Series: Advent
    Thoughts for Reflection: Though the contemporary season of Advent is not truly outlined in the Bible, the theme of “expectant waiting” and anticipation for the coming of the Lord and His work is found throughout Scripture. From the very beginning, humanity had been waiting for the One who would crush the head of the serpent. The people of God waited through both good times and bad times for the coming of the Messiah. In the present age, we wait once again for Christ’s Second Coming and the ultimate fulfillment and completion of His redemptive work. In the season of Advent, we reflect on and even practice this sort of “expectant waiting” as we approach the celebration of Christmas. This year, our waiting seems to go beyond just Christmas though as our yearning for a “return to normal,” a release from this pandemic is on our minds. Throughout Scripture, we see God at work through the difficult times, setting the stage for something greater for His people. As we consider the Advent season, maybe this year we need to broaden our gaze as we wait expectantly for the great work God is preparing in advance for us. Questions to take home: Read Psalm 130. The word “wait” means to “hope for”, “put trust in” and “anticipate”. These are major themes of the Advent season. How do these themes and this Psalm alter your perspective on our present season (most of 2020) of “waiting”? Read Romans 8:18-30. Scripture is very clear that God is working for the “good” of those who “love Him.” If you have declared Christ to be Lord of your life, how does this passage help to clarify your perspective on God’s work in and through your present situation? What do you think He is “setting the stage” for in your life? How can the hope/anticipation of Psalm 130 and the Truth of Romans 8 impact your prayer life in the next month? Read Hebrews 11. Pay special attention to Verses 13-16 and 39-40. How does the faith of these “heroes of the faith” inspire you in this difficult time? How can we put our faith into action in this Advent season? 4 Ways to Pray during Advent: Acknowledge Present Difficulties Renew Trust in God's Faithfulness New (renewed) Vision for God's Present Work Expectant Hope for God's Future Plans