Sermon Recap

Sermon Recap: Jesus and the Broken (Mark 10:46-52)

This is a recap of the first sermon in our current series: Jesus & People

As a society, we have an empathy deficit. Ours is an age of fake news, undocumented families being ripped apart at the border, enormous economic inequality, and vitriolic political rhetoric. In this series, we will look at Jesus to help us learn to see others with the love, compassion, and empathy that he embodied. Mark 10:46-52 gives an example of Jesus and the broken.

1. Bartimaeus was broken.

Everyone in Jericho would have known Baritmaeus as a poor, blind beggar. In Mark 10:48, we see the crowd treating this marginalized man with contempt. Contemporary Jewish literature said things like "it is better to die than to beg" (Sirach 40:28). Many in the crowd likely felt that this broken man would do better to give up and die than be such a nuisance to them as they tried to see Jesus.

2. The broken cry out to Jesus.

Because Bartimaeus was a broken man, marginalized in his culture, he had nothing to lose. When he heard Jesus was near, he cried out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (v.47). His cry of desperation is a profound prayer that we should learn from.

  • "Jesus" - God made himself available to Bartimaeus in the incarnation. He could call out to God because God made himself present and gave himself a name in Jesus.
  • "Son of David" - Bartimaeus recognizes that Jesus is a King in the line of David, the promised King who would put things right again in Israel. Jesus was that King, but his throne wasn't golden. His throne was a wooden cross.
  • "Have mercy on me" - As a broken man, Bartimaeus understands his relationship to Jesus better than those who are wealthy, strong, and capable. He knows he is broken, poor and needy and speaking to the King of kings. His prayer is a plea—not for his rights—but for Christ's mercy.

3. Jesus heals the broken.

Jesus responds to Baritmaeus's request to see again in v.52: “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus’s brokenness makes him throw himself on Christ’s mercy by faith. He doesn’t trust his own strength, ability, intelligence or goodness. He doesn’t have any of those things. He only has his brokenness. And THAT is why he trusts Jesus alone! His brokenness leads to faith. And it’s that faith that Jesus says leads to his healing.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. It can be easy in our day to think about social issues in the big picture, but fail to treat individuals who are hurting and marginalized with dignity and love. The crowd treated Bartimaeus with contempt—who are you tempted to treat that way? What kind of person is especially hard for you to love? 
  2. Do you believe Christ will answer your prayers? He promises to in John 14:13-14. What stops us from believing in prayer's power? 
  3. Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus in prayer because he was broken. How frequently do you find yourself broken before the Lord in prayer? Why?
  4. What is your greatest need right now? Take a moment and ask God for his help in prayer.
  5. In what ways do you tend to rely on your own strength rather than put your faith in Christ alone? How can you grow in faith and decrease your tendency to self-reliance?
  6. Bartimaeus started the story on the side of the road; he ended the story healed and on the road, following Jesus. How is God calling you to follow Christ on the road of your life right now? How is calling you to grow as his disciple?

Sermon Recap: Self-Service : Sacrifice (Philippians 2:25-30)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series, Get (Outta) Your Own Way

Our culture is built on the assumption that we should all be able to serve ourselves and get what we want. This is not the way of the cross. God’s desire is not for us to serve ourselves but to live sacrificially in worship of Christ.

1. The Failure of Self-Service

Self-service never turns out the way we want. If anything, the ways in which we try to do things ourselves end up revealing our sinful motivations and desires. We end up treating other people as objects and deceive ourselves with an illusion of control when we really don’t have any. We’re not very good at being a god, even when we try to make ourselves to be one. Ultimately, God will hold us accountable for this selfish way of living.

2. The Root of Sacrifice

The cross shows us that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. His sacrifice for us is the root of why we can sacrifice for others. We see this exemplified in Epaphroditus as we is willing to be sent anywhere, willing to serve anyone, and make any sacrifices possible to honor God. He came close to losing his life in the process but his vision of ministry was made clear by the cross.

3. The Fruit of Sacrifice

A life of sacrifice brings people together in unique ways that normally don’t happen. It sets people on the same course of life together, walking in lockstep with each other. It also testifies to a watching  world that Jesus is King and that he is worthy of worship. Following Jesus shouldn’t be easy and requires sacrifice. Thankfully our Savior is always serving us by His Spirit.

Reflection and Application

  1. In what ways do you see our culture being obsessed with self-service?

  2. How do the ways in which we serve ourselves actually end up enslaving us to spiritual idols and reveal our sinfulness?

  3. How does Epaphroditus’ sacrifices in service reveal the nature of what it means to serve others? Do you see this typified in how you love those around you?

  4. Have you ever suffered and sacrificed with others around you? Did it become a blessing? How and why?

  5. Why does the reality that our Savior continues to serve us by the Holy Spirit empower us to live sacrificially instead of serving ourselves? How does that change our attitudes toward everyday sacrifice?

Sermon Recap: Self-Interest : Unity (Philippians 2:19-24)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series, Get (Outta) Your Own Way

Self-interest is a cultural buzzword that some see positively but most see negatively. Some accuse the church of being this way. Nonetheless, it is actually in our self-interest to pursue unity in the church to bring glory to God in the gospel.

1. Understanding Self-Interest

We throw the word “self-interest” at those we believe to be selfish. At the same time, self-interest, when rooted correctly, is a good thing. Scripture even points toward elements of self-interest that are good for us. Jesus tells us to lose our lives if we want to save it. There are eternal rewards promised to those who persevere in faith, who remain steadfast. This is not selfishness nor works-righteousness but a self-interest that is rooted in the gospel to honor God.

2. A Unity of Vision

Paul had to have been tempted to be a control freak. Yet the testimony of Philippians shows he had great care and love for Timothy because they shared a united love for Christ. Likewise, Timothy served with Paul out of a shared vision for gospel work. Do we live our lives with the same vision of unity in line with Christ and his church?

3. A Unity in Community

The two men were also dependent on each other. Timothy needed Paul because he encouraged and legitimized Timothy’s calling in ministry. Paul needed Timothy’s faithfulness and perseverance in  order to serve God rightly. The reality is that all the Christians we admire are not believers who operate apart from a community of faith. It is in our self-interest to live in union with the church in Christ.

Reflection and Application

  1. What do you think of when you hear the word, “self-interest”? Is it positive or negative to you? Why?

  2. How can self-interest be a good thing in certain situations? How can self-interest be good at all?

  3. Why would self-interest in the gospel be a good thing? Why would it lead us to unity with others by sharing the same vision?

  4. What was the last decision you made with a vision of unity in line with the gospel? In view of the church? Why would it be in our self-interest to consider these things?

  5. Consider Christians whose faith you admire. Why do you think community is integral to their faith? Would it be in your self-interest to grow in the community God has placed you in?

Sermon Recap: Self-Pity : Joy (Philippians 2:14-18)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series, Get (Outta) Your Own Way

Self-pity is a reigning attitude in our day and age. It’s easy to slip into  but is it how God wants us to live? What we must see is how the gospel doesn’t make room for self-pity but calls us to rejoice in Christ.

1. Why Self-Pity is a Problem

Self-pity exposes our self-centeredness, makes us angry and play the victim, refuses to show gratitude, and leads to self-worship. Worst of all, it’s outright rebellion against God. Paul warns the church of being like the Israelites in wilderness, feeling sorry for themselves, incurring God’s anger. Even if the outworking of self-pity isn’t directed toward God, he still takes it as a personal offense.

2. What the Gospel Says to Self-Pity

To get out of self-pity, we need is a shift of perspective to the cross. The gospel says Jesus was my substitute and he suffered what I should’ve received. If I don’t deserve good things but get them anyway instead of the bad things that should come my way, my whole life is a gift from God. The cross confronts our temptation to self-pity and forces us to ask if we’re right to pity ourselves. When you consider all the people who have greater right to self-pity but lived in faithfulness, they are all marked by a joy in the Messiah that kept them away from feeling sorry for themselves.

3. How Joy Transforms Us

When we move from self-pity to Christ-centered joy, we first being to shine as stars in the sky. We serve as a witness to world steeped in self-pity, making known the unspeakable joy of Christ. It is inconsistent to proclaim Christ as Savior and wallow in your own misery. Joy also makes us sacrificial worshipers. We will be willing to step out of ourselves to serve and love others in honor of our God who did the same for us. We can celebrate the joys of others, even if it comes at our own expense.

Reflection and Application

  1. How are you often tempted to self-pity? What type of situations force that emotion to arise? How does it affect you?

  2. Have you seen self-pity affect your understanding of God? How has self-pity been debilitating to your life?

  3. Why does looking at the cross change our perspectives on our own lives? How does the gospel challenge us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves?

  4. Are there ways in which more Christ-centered joy could actually change your life? Places where you would begin to thrive rather than cave in?

  5. What does it look like to shine like a star in the sky for Christ through your emotional health? Why is joy so integral to our Christian witness?

Sermon Recap: Self-Confidence : Faith (Philippians 2:12-13)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series, Get (Outta) Your Own Way

The world believes that many of our problems can be solved by having more self-confidence. What we really need is to see that self-confidence is self-defeating and why true faith is Christ-confident.

1. Why Self-Confidence is Self-Defeating

The world says over-confident people must learn to humble themselves while under-confident people should learn to act more confidently. The problem for both solutions is that we’re still told to depend on ourselves. It’s foolish to think we can flip a switch and become who we desire to be.

2. Why Faith is Christ-Confident

This is why faith is better than self-confidence. It leads us to be confident in something other than ourselves: Jesus Christ. Faith requires you to lose self-confidence, not gain it, to be dependent on Christ alone. There are three ways Paul drives this reality home to the Philippians.

A. Rely on Christ Alone

Faith relies on Jesus alone. There are always mentors and influential people in your life who will help you grow in faith but they are not God. They still fail and fall short. God’s desire is for us to put all our confidence in Him and not be dependent upon other fallen people to save us.

B. Revere Christ Alone

We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, with the right awe and reverence of God that puts us in our proper place. Faith forces us to “come to Jesus” and realize how small and helpless we truly are. Why be confident in yourself when God has it all?

C. Recognize Christ at Work in You

God assures us we can be confident in Christ because He is still at work in us. None of us come to faith by our own power but only by the Spirit’s moving. God took all the risk, gave up all things, and made the sacrifice to love us. He alone is worthy of our faith and deserves all our confidence.

Reflection and Application

  1. How would you rate your level of self-confidence? Do you tend to be over-confident or under-confident? Why do you think that is?

  2. What are our culture’s answers to our confidence issues? Why aren’t they very helpful?

  3. Why is it about faith in Christ that necessarily draws you away from self-confidence? How is that a good thing?

  4. What does it look like for you to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling?” How should confidence in Christ play a role in this?

  5. Why should we be comforted and confident that God works in us, “to will and to work for his good pleasure?” Are there ways you’ve seen this happen in your life? Celebrate them!

Sermon Recap: Self-Exaltation : Humility (Philippians 2:1-11)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series, Get (Outta) Your Own Way

Our culture naturally rewards those who exalt themselves. Humility is not a celebrated trait in our world today. What we need t o see is that humility is the call of Christ and the better way to live.

1. Folly of Self-Exaltation

Self-exaltation is everywhere and happens at every age, from oldest to youngest. Yet the roots of self-exaltation go back all the way to the Garden of Eden and the fall of Adam and Eve. They were tempted to exalt themselves over God and gave in. Self-exaltation is perhaps the most anti-God of all sins. It’s a pursuit of empty-glory, a striving after the wind that only proves futile. Humility is a quality that few civilizations have ever treasured. Yet it is exactly what God calls us to in his letter to the Philippians.

2. Failure of False Humility

The problem with humility is how hard it is to identify. The moment we think we have it, we’ve lost it. False humility is evident when we can’t thank others for a compliment or doing something kind for us. CS Lewis reminds us, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” False humility also can’t thank God because it only wants to give credit to itself. It pursues excellence and ambition at the expense of serving and loving others.

3. Foundation of True Humility

Humility isn’t something you can work on. It’s annoying that that’s the case but it’s probably right. Humility requires you to look entirely away from yourself which is why it is so integral to the gospel. Paul breaks out in song in the middle of this passage in praise of Jesus’ humility. The road to glory for Christ only came by walking the path of the cross. For us to expect something different for ourselves is to exalt ourselves over God and make it about us.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Do you ever feel like you’re “in your own way”? When something that could’ve been great for you doesn’t work out because of something you thought or did?

  2. Are you ever tempted to exalt yourself? What kind of situations or contexts do you find this to be strongest?

  3. Do you practice false humility? Are there ways in which you pretend to be humble but know you’re not? Why does CS Lewis’ quote above help address false humility?

  4. In what ways have you found humility to be the hardest virtue to comprehend? What makes it so frustrating or difficult for you to understand and embrace humility?

  5. Why does faith in the gospel naturally and necessarily lead us to humility? How does it help us grow in humility?

Sermon Recap: Grace and Limits (Hebrews 12:1-11)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series on parenting: Raising Humans. 

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When I asked my son, Jonas, what makes a good parent, one thing he said struck me: "Don't give the kids whatever they want. Because if they get whatever they want, they won't know what's right." Limits are good us—they give shape to our lives. Parents give children limits through consistent, loving discipline that reflects the discipline of God in Hebrews 12

God’s Fatherly Limits for Us

When we look at God's fatherly limits for us in Hebrews 12:7-11, we learn 6 things about our discipline for our children:

1. Discipline is an act of love (v.7)

What parent doesn’t love their children? When God brings us through suffering, we can see it as His love for us, teaching us, training us to know and follow Him. Parents who love their children discipline them. “God is treating you as sons.”

2. Failure to discipline is hatred. (v.8)

If your whole life were rainbows and roses, it would be a mark that God doesn’t love you! It takes discipline to grow up and become our best selves. Failure to discipline a child is a mark, not of love and compassion, but of hatred and contempt for their potential.

3. Discipline trains children to receive their limits. (v.9-10)

A parent’s discipline leads children to respect them. Discipline from God the Father, in turn, leads us to submit to Him. If our sinfulness leads us to try to transcend human limits, and that is an inherently bad thing, then discipline teaches us to trust, not self or sinful pride, but our loving Father. 

4. Discipline is unpleasant. (v.11)

These Christians are suffering persecution. They are being maligned, scoffed at, imprisoned, betrayed. And God is ALLOWING this. It isn’t because He is incapable of stopping it. It is because He has a gospel vision for their lives. It is because He is not satisfied with where we are, but has a greater goal for where we will end up. Discipline is unpleasant. But that unpleasantness is key to growth. 

5. Discipline bears fruit.

This is an essential component of gracious discipline. Bringing the unpleasant aspect of discipline into our children’s lives without the goal of bearing fruit is tantamount to punishment, if not plain cruelty. We have NO RIGHT to punish our children. We do not punish—by grace Christ was punished for us (see 1 Peter 2:24)! We correct and train—we discipline. We lead our children through unpleasant experiences so that it will bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 

6. Discipline is divine.

Earthly parents are an analogy of God’s loving care for us as His children. When we discipline our children, we are participating in God’s work in their lives. When we discipline our children in love, to instruct, and to bear fruit in their lives, we are imaging our Father in heaven. 

The Grace of Limits

 

Hebrews 12:3-7 teach that mom and dad get to reflect the Father and His loving discipline for their children. We discipline, in part, to teach our kids the way God created the universe to work, according to His law and the "if this, then that" principle that is a prerequisite to godly wisdom. 

How should parents do this? What discipline method should be used? Hebrews quotes Proverbs, which elsewhere discusses "the rod" (Proverbs 22:15; 13:24). This does NOT mean abuse, and parents must remember our authority in our children's lives is given by God for their good. Rather than prescribe method, as a church we want to encourage everyone to discipline in community. Talk with others, learn from each other, be accountable to one another. 

Most importantly, remember that you will make mistakes and need repentance throughout your parenting. Give grace to your kids, and receive the grace of Christ. 

Raising Humans Homework #3

If you are a parent, sit down on your own and/or with your spouse and answer the following 3 questions together:

  1. The life stage and appropriate limits for our child(ren) are _____________.
  2. Currently, we ensure those limits are upheld in our child(dren)’s life by ________________.
  3. We will live in community by honestly sharing our discipline practices and parenting struggles with these trusted brothers and sisters _____________. 
  4. Extra Credit: Ask a wise brother or sister who has spent time with your children this question: “Do you think my children understand their God-given limits? Do they understand them too well (not free to be themselves)? Or not enough (TOO free around others as to make them uncomfortable)? 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. What kinds of limits has God given you in your life? How do you view them?
  2. What is one God-given limit that you seek to transcend? Why? 
  3. What does it look like to humbly submit to your God-given limits? 
  4. Do you believe that God's discipline for you (and yours for your kids) is an act of love? Why or why not?
  5. If you have kids, in what ways do you seek to reinforce the God-given law principle in their lives, "if this, then that"? How consistent are you in this?
  6. Is it easier to give your children the law or to give them the gospel? Why are both necessary to their development and knowledge of God? 
  7. Is the way you discipline your children honestly submitted to Christ? Are there things about your parenting that you don't want Him to touch? Why or why not?

Sermon Recap: God at the Center (Ephesians 6:1-4)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series on parenting: Raising Humans. 

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We need a Copernican Revolution in our parenting. For 1500 years in the West, we thought the sun revolved around the earth. Copernicus—and others before and after him—helped flip that thinking on its head. The earth isn't the center of the solar system. The sun is. 

Likewise, we tend to think that the family revolves around the parents or the children. But we are wrong. We need a Copernican Revolution in our parenting. We need, not parents or children, but God at the center of our families.

Christ Is the Sun That the Family Should Orbit

In Ephesians 6:1-4, children are called to obey in the Lord, and parents are to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Christ is the sun that rises and sets on the household.

Subverting Patriarchy

Paul is subverting the conventional wisdom of his day. In the Roman world, the father was the center of the family. He owned the property, his word was law, he even had the power of life and death over his newborn children. But Paul elevates the mother to equal status in the home ("children obey your parents") and curbs the father's authority ("Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger"). Paul subverts patriarchy because the gospel does!

Acknowledging True Authority

This passage likewise subverts the conventional wisdom of our day that is more child-centered than father-centered. Our culture is understandably suspicious of authority—in the wake of two world wars and the systemic oppression of people of color and women, we ought to be. But as followers of Jesus, we can't simply react. We have to submit to His authority, and teach our children to do the same. Which is why Paul calls children to obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2). When we teach them obedience, they learn to acknowledge Christ's authority.

Obedience in the Lord Brings Joy

But God doesn't demand obedience for its own sake. He gives promises in Ephesians 6:3. Parents who teach their children obedience give them an incredible gift. God promises joy to children who obey.

The Joy of Knowing God

Our children's relationship to us is a scaffold God uses to build their relationship with him. An essential way we teach our kids to know and love God is by showing them that it is good to submit to His authority, by requiring they submit to ours.

The Joy of Being Like Jesus

Jesus is the only child in human history who perfectly obeyed His Father (Philippians 2:8-11). He is proof that obedience brings joy! When we teach our kids obedience, we help them receive the joy of growing to become like Jesus.

Raising Humans Homework #2

If you are a parent, sit down on your own and/or with your spouse and answer the following 3 questions together:

  1. The tendency in our household is to give primary authority to _____________.
  2. The effect of putting authority in the wrong place in my household is__________.
  3. I want to work toward making Christ the center of my household by___________.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. When in your life have you observed authority being used rightly, for the good of others?
  2. When have you observed authority being abused? Have you suffered abuse at the hands of misused authority?
  3. In what ways is it difficult for you to exercise the authority God has given you in your life? Why?
  4. In what ways are you influenced by the misuse or misunderstanding of authority in our world? How can God's Word counter that influence?
  5. Do you believe the promises of Ephesians 6:2-3? What makes it difficult to believe that obedience brings joy?
  6. How consistent are you at requiring obedience of your children? How have you hurt their ability/desire to obey godly authority? How will you repent of this?
  7. What is one step you can take to grow in submission to God's authority in your life? If you have kids, how can you help them grow in this as well?

Sermon Recap: Gospel Vision (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series on parenting: Raising Humans. 

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Raising humans begins with vision. If we want to raise humans who will flourish in God’s world, we need a better vision for our kids than a school or career or future lifestyle. We need to think bigger. We don’t need our vision for them. We need God’s vision for them.

God's Vision

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God tells His people what His will is for their whole lives. Not only did He want relationship with the grown-ups there that day. He tells them that they are to pass His vision on to the next generation. God’s vision for our children is this: that they would know and love God, and that WE would be the ones to teach them how

Our Fallen Vision

We may know God’s vision for us and our kids, but we can go astray, get distracted, be tempted. It's easy to fall into the patterns of life and behavior of the people around us that have nothing to do with God’s vision. Our vision for our kids and our parenting is fallen. We emphasize success, self-esteem, or self-sufficiency in our parenting, rather than knowing and loving the God who made us and loves us in Christ.

Gospel Vision

The gospel sets us free from the fear that we will mess up our kids. It tells us we are sometimes bad parents. But it also reminds us that God calls Himself Father! He is the first and perfect parent. And He loves us with a deeper, truer, freer and purer love than any parent has ever felt for their child.

This sets us free to infuse our lives and our parenting with the gospel as Deuteronomy 6:7 calls us to. As parents, the way we teach our kids to know and love God is by embodying the truth of the gospel. It means that when we feel helpless as a parent to console or care for our kids, we can bow ourselves down in prayer. It means that when we sin against our kids, we can repent to them and ask their forgiveness.

Raising Humans Homework #1

If you are a parent, sit down on your own and/or with your spouse and answer the following 3 questions together:

  1. Our vision for our family is _____________. (How will you restate God's vision for you and your family in light of the gospel?)
  2. We will live out this vision by__________. (How will you seek to embody the gospel in your family life?)
  3. The people outside our family who will help us do this are _________. (Who in your Christian community will walk this out with you?)

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Do you delight in God and the gospel? How can you grow in this? (Can we expect our kids to if we don't???)
  2. What side of the "fallen vision" spectrum do you fall on? Do you tend to have a vision for your kids that emphasizes success? Self-esteem? Self-sufficiency? Something else? 
  3. How can you repent of your fallen vision and begin to grow towards a gospel vision for you and your family?
  4. In what ways do you feel like a failure as a parent? How does God's love for you in the gospel meet you in that?
  5. How often do you pray with your kids? How can you infuse prayer throughout life in your household?
  6. Do you regularly practice repentance toward your kids? Why or why not? Is this something you feel free in the gospel to practice?

Sermon Recap: New Mission (Acts 16:14-34)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our new series: Grace Changes Everything. 

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God has called us into mission wherever He sends us. So long as the Bay Area is our home, it is our mission field. In His wisdom, we encounter people who are in all kinds of life circumstances. Our call is to persevere in loving and serving them with the gospel of Christ. 

For Every People

Most people think that religion divides rather than unites. The gospel creates unity because of the radical nature of grace. We see this in how Paul has no hesitation in interacting with three entirely different people. They differ in gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. All three are people who typically seen as lesser in the Jewish world. Nonetheless, these are three of the first converts to the Philippian church.

For Every Situation

The gospel applies to every situation of life. There are no set of circumstances where the good news of Christ does not apply. For Lydia, she sought a rational and beautiful connection between spiritual rules she admired and the longings of her soul. The slave girl experienced freedom in both the physical and spiritual realm. Lastly, the jailer who lived a life of lawful rigidity felt the full power of undeserved grace and mercy. Being on mission doesn’t mean waiting for certain situations to arise. It means speaking and living out the gospel at all times in all places.

Present Perseverance

Being on mission is not easy. The slave girl hounded Paul and Silas for days. These men were also humiliated, beaten, and imprisoned for the gospel. Yet even in jail, they praised and prayed to God, knowing that their lives were hidden in Christ. We live in a place of constant change, where everything new quickly becomes old and gets tossed out. What our communities need is a faith that perseveres, that is here to stay, that will not leave but will walk alongside others.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. What type of people do you find it easy to talk about Jesus with? What type of people are hard? Why shouldn’t it matter?
  2. How did the gospel “click” for you? What type of situation were you in or what kind of questions did you have when you finally came to faith?
  3. What are the different ways you’ve seen the gospel work in the lives of others? How has it been  different from your own personal experience?
  4. What does it mean to be present in a place where people are constantly coming and going?
  5. What does it look like to persevere with difficult people or difficult circumstances in your life? Why does this matter to a world that’s watching?

Sermon Recap: New Community (Acts 15:1-22)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our new series: Grace Changes Everything. 

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The church is a community of people called by Christ to reflect the heavenly reality that the gospel has initiated. It is where “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). Grace changes everything, and brings us into a new community. 

Deep Separation

When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, separation was introduced into the world—separation from God and each other. They hid, they blamed, and they dressed themselves so they wouldn’t be seen and fully known by each other. As their children, deep separation is a challenge the early church faced (Acts 15:1-5). So do we.

New Community

The church is the community ordained by God to bring the spiritual truth of the gospel into concrete reality. It is a new community that works through distinctions, that embraces difference, and brings individuals into a family that walks in unity, with confident humility, knowing the glory of our identity in Christ and the deep flaws that remain in all of us.

Messy Together

To follow Jesus, we have to walk toward each other. We have to lean into the mess. We have to put ourselves in situations with each other where we might have to ask for forgiveness, and where we might have to extend that same forgiveness to others. It wasn’t easy for the early church; it won’t be easy for us. But grace changes us and leads us to be messy together for the glory of Jesus. 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Where do you see a tendency towards separation/withdrawal from others in your life?
  2. How would you describe yourself in each of the following categories: 1) culture, 2) church-background, 3) ethnicity, 4) economic status , and 5) social status? What differences make it difficult for you to be messy together with others?
  3. Why is togetherness a necessary implication of the gospel? How did this play out in Acts 15?
  4. Why is togetherness messy? What relationships in the church are messy for you?
  5. What is one concrete step you can take to pursue being messy together with others? How will you ensure that you take that step?

Sermon Recap: New Identity (Genesis 32:22-32)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our new series: Grace Changes Everything. 

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As a church, we believe that God’s grace changes everything. It changes who we are, where we belong, and why we’re here. Many people don’t go to church because, they say, religious people are too judgmental. But for Christians who have received the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we should be the least judgmental people in the world. In Genesis 32:22-32, we learn that our identity should be rooted in the underserved love of God in Christ. 

Broken Identity

Jacob’s background and history show his need for grace. He had been defined his whole life as a cheater and lacked a stable community in which he was loved and accepted without reservation (see Genesis 25:19-34). Jacob’s identity was broken by sin. He needed God to break in. 

New Identity

God meets Jacob in a mysterious wrestling match. Old identities die hard—they often have to be wrestled away (Genesis 32:25). Grace is costly (Genesis 32:26). Jacob has to come to the end of himself before he can receive a new name. God renames him Israel (Genesis 32:27-28).

Confident Humility

In his brokenness, Jacob’s identity has been characterized by insecure pride. But now he has received a new name. He has faced God and lived. And he walks with a limp (Genesis 32:30-31). With his new, God-given identity he can go through life with confident humility. 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Jacob was named “cheater” before he had even come of age. How have others named you? How have you been negatively defined by the people in your life? 
  2. How have others judged you? How have you been made to feel unsafe by the people in your life? Are there ways in which you are insecure as a result?
  3. How has your broken identity emerged in sinful habits and behaviors? How have you hurt others? Judged others? Been jealous? Greedy? Arrogant? 
  4. God’s grace shows you you’re a sinner, and yet calls you a saint through the atoning work of Christ. Have you received His grace? Has that grace changed your identity? How?
  5. Having received a new identity, Jacob could walk in confidence, knowing that he was loved and accepted by the God of the universe. Does the gospel provide you deep security? How do you need to find security in Christ?
  6. Jacob emerged from his encounter with God walking with a limp. How has the gospel humbled you? How do you need to grow in gospel humility? 
  7. Walking in confident humility shows that you are living in your new identity in Christ. Did you walk in confident humility today? How will you tomorrow?

Sermon Recap: The Wonder of Breakfast (John 21:1-14)

This is a recap of our Easter Sunday sermon

If you had all the power in the world, what would you do with it? Rule it with an iron fist? Make everyone enjoy the same things as you? Have as much fun as possible? When Jesus rose again from the dead, He had “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). What did He do with all that power in John 21:1-14? He cooked breakfast.

Disillusioned & Done

A large percentage of people in our area would call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Many people are disillusioned. Jesus’s disciples were disillusioned too. They had given up everything—especially their careers—to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). But now Peter and his friends are going fishing, going back to a life of depending, not on Jesus, but on themselves. 

Eventually, a disillusioned life of depending on self will end up putting me in the same boat as the disciples: “they caught nothing” (John 21:3). And that’s when Jesus shows up (John 21:5).

The Wonder of Breakfast

Jesus was a conquering hero, but He didn’t come with shining robes or golden crowns. He came cooking breakfast. Jesus isn’t like other Kings. He isn’t like others with power in our world. He doesn’t exalt Himself. He doesn’t lift Himself up. He doesn’t impose His will on others, force others to do His bidding, twist your arm until you cry uncle and do what He wants. Jesus brings Himself down to lift others up

That’s the wonder of breakfast. God Himself invites us to eat at His table. All we have to do is come.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. What would you do if you had all the money and power in the world? Be honest! How does this differ from Jesus in John 21?
  2. Think of a time when you have been judged by others? How did it feel? Why did it hurt? How did you respond? 
  3. When you become disillusioned—when your hopes go unrealized or your trust in others is broken—what do you do? How is your response similar to the disciples’? How is it different?
  4. Why does depending on ourselves fail to finally satisfy? What alternative does Easter offer?
  5. How does Jesus reveal Himself in this story (John 21:1)? What does his invitation to “come and have breakfast” reveal about Him?
  6. Jesus brings Himself down to lift others up. Where else in the Bible do we see this? 
  7. If this is the way the King of all things lives, what does it mean for us? How should we live?

Sermon Recap: The Spirit & Mission (John 16:7-11)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

In John 16:7-11, Jesus promised He would send the disciples the Holy Spirit to give them the strength, the wisdom, and the love necessary to be about that mission of loving liberation. He sends His Spirit so He can send us on mission. 

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1. Sent Spirit, Sent Church

Jesus sent His Spirit so He could send His church on this mission: to tell the world the good news that there is hope. There is freedom from sin and self. There is a new, true, good life available to them if they believe in Him (John 16:9)

2. Just Spirit, Just Church

We live in a world that longs for true justice, but can’t find it. Jesus was crucified by the false justice of this world (John 16:10). Christ called us to be salt and light and sent His just Spirit so we could be a just church and point the way to Him.

3. Liberating Spirit, Liberated Church

The ruler of this world was judged at the cross and resurrection (John 16:11). By humbling Himself and willingly dying, He sets us free from sin and disarmed spiritual evil in this world. And Christ sends the Spirit to the church to set us free from the power and persuasion of spiritual evil in this world.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. How does sin stop us from being able to freely enter God’s love in Christ? 
  2. What are you tempted to be enslaved by? Ego? Approval-seeking? Fear? Self-doubt? Anger? Hatred? Selfishness? How can the Spirit set you free from these?
  3. What new purpose does Christ give to us as His people? Why is this a more fulfilling purpose than the ones we give ourselves?
  4. “Justice” and “righteousness” mean the same thing in Greek. What are the implications of this?
  5. Why do you think it’s important that the Spirit is just? Why is it important that the church walk in God’s justice? What are some ways that we fail to do this?
  6. What kind of freedom does Christ give us in the gospel? Why is it important for Christians to live in freedom? 
  7. How does gospel freedom fit together with gospel witness? Why is it important to keep the two of them together?

Sermon Recap: The Spirit & Suffering (John 15:18-16:2)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

In John 15:18-20, Jesus promised that those who follow Him would suffer. That does NOT sound like good news to many of us. But He promises that He would send His Spirit to work in us and through us in the midst of suffering.

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1. Suffering Is Inevitable

We live in a world that hates and fears suffering. But Christians serve a King who became King by suffering on a wooden cross. We worship a God who was unjustly tried and convicted and executed. Who was abandoned by His friends and hated by nearly everyone around Him on the day of His death. For the Christian, suffering is inevitable.

2. Suffering Incapacitates the Self-Reliant

In John 16:1-2, Jesus promises suffering to keep his disciples from falling away. He brings us through suffering to incapacitate us. To teach us that we can’t do it on our own. To show us our brokenness; our weakness; our deep need for others; our need for Him. Suffering leads us to humble dependence upon His Spirit.  

3. Suffering Is Invaluable to the Spirit's Purpose

In John 15:26-27, Jesus tells his disciples that they will suffer for Him. And suffering is invaluable to the Spirit’s purpose in our lives, because we wouldn’t rely on Him if we didn’t suffer. We’d get distracted by stock options or kids recitals or finding The One or the latest tech gadget. Suffering draws us out of ourselves into reliance on the Spirit. And it reminds us of the glorious, incredible truth that, by faith, Christ is in us by the Spirit! 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. How do you respond to suffering? What's your first response to it? Why?
  2. Do you believe that suffering is inevitable for followers of Jesus? How does that make you feel about being His disciple?
  3. What are some examples of people who suffered for God in the Bible? How did God use suffering in their lives? How did their story end? 
  4. Who are you in community with that you can lean on in the midst of suffering? Who can lean on you?
  5. How much do you rely on the Holy Spirit in your daily life? How often do you see your deep need for Him? How might suffering affect that?
  6. Read Psalm 56. What does David say about God's heart toward him in his suffering? What does that teach you about God's heart for you in yours?
  7. How might the Spirit use suffering in your life to make you a greater witness to the gospel of Jesus? What are some ways that suffering makes us more effective witnesses to Christ?

Sermon Recap: The Spirit & Emotion (John 16:20-24)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

There is an unavoidable connection between the Spirit’s work in us and our emotional lives. Jesus helps us understand in John 16:20-24 that, as God’s adopted children in Christ, we can humbly receive the gift of emotion. 

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1. Jesus Gives Us Permission to Feel

Emotion is something God in His love and wisdom has given us for our good. Emotion is a gift because it puts us in touch with the reality of the world around and inside us. And in John 16:20, Jesus gives His disciples—and us—permission to feel. 

2. The Spirit Redeems Emotion

Our emotional lives are enslaved to sin, to society, to the expectations of others and ourselves. We see our emotions as inconvenient, untrustworthy, or even dangerous. But in John 16:22, we see that the Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to our hearts by faith and redeems our emotional lives. 

3. Faith Renews Our Emotional Lives

Pastor Pete Scazzero writes, “It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” Spiritual maturity—real faith in Christ—frees us to be who we are and renews our emotional lives.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Why does Jesus give His disciples permission to feel in John 16:20-24? How was that important for their present and future circumstances?
  2. In what ways is emotion a gift from God? What keeps us from seeing it that way?
  3. Our emotions help us see the reality of what’s going on around us and inside us. Think of some ways you have experienced this in your life.
  4. How do you typically respond to emotion? Do you tend to express it? Do you tend to suppress it? 
  5. Do you believe your emotional life is important to God? Do you believe He wants you to experience a rich and full emotional life? Why or why not?
  6. How does the Spirit set us free to feel? How do you need Him to set you free?
  7. How does faith renew our emotional lives? Do you agree that “It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”

Sermon Recap: The Spirit and Self-Awareness (John 16:8-11)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

Throughout history, philosophers and artists have sought to understand the connection between knowing who God is and knowing ourselves. For the Christian, the Spirit helps us see ourselves for who we truly are so we might see who Christ truly is and turn to him by faith alone.

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1. Aware of Our Failure

True knowledge of self isn't about self-realization or self-discovery as our culture defines it. It's much closer to understanding, as Calvin puts it, our "shaming nakedness" and "teeming horde of infirmities". The Spirit's work involves helping us to see the sin in our lives we often ignore, the righteousness we pretend we have enough of, and the judgment to come that we hope never does. So much of our lives are dedicated to avoiding these realities yet it is God's desire by His Spirit to reveal them to us.

2. Aware of Our Freedom

However, the Spirit doesn't only give us the bad news. The Spirit also is sent to show us what Jesus has done to deal with the sin we are all burdened with. The Spirit points us to Jesus who is our righteousness, how he lived righteously for us. The Spirit also lets us see that Jesus took the judgment death for the punishment that we rightly deserve.

This is the difference between how the Spirit works and the devil works. The Spirit convicts, giving us clarity and specificity about how we actually are rebelling against God so we might repent of our ways. The devil accuses us of wrongdoing and wants us to remain an emotional mess, living in a cloud of confusion and shame. The Spirit points us back to Jesus, the devil wants us to dwell in self-loathing and guilt.

This is why we need knowledge of God and Jesus Christ to address the harsh reality of knowing ourselves. For whatever kind of failure, quitter, loser, or messed up person we've been, the Spirit reminds us that Jesus has done something about it and wants to re-establish us in the good graces of our Heavenly Father and welcome us back into the family.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. What do you think it means to know yourself well? How do you think you do it? In what ways do you think you know yourself well? 
  2. How has the Spirit of God revealed to you the sinfulness, brokenness, and helplessness in your life without Jesus? Is there a particular way in which the damage of sin, your lack of righteousness, or knowing what kind of judgment you deserve convict you of who you really are without Jesus?
  3. How does the Spirit not only take us into the valley of our sin and brokenness but He also leads us out of it and to Jesus. In what ways does He do it regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment? How have you seen this happen in your own personal life?
  4. In what ways have you ever experienced the devil accusing you in light of your sin rather than the Spirit convicting you of sin? How did it affect your heart and emotional state? 
  5. Are there any areas of your own life where you still feel deep-seated shame or guilt and have trouble coming out of? How does the gospel speak to this? After discussing how the Spirit lifts you out of this by the cross of Christ, take some time to pray for freedom from your shame and guilt by God's power and Spirit.
  6. Read John 21. How do you think the disciples felt after being welcomed and fed by Jesus? How do you think Peter felt after being restored and re-commissioned by Jesus? Do you believe that this is what Jesus yearns to do with you in your sin every single day? 

Sermon Recap: Led by the Spirit (John 16:13-14)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

In a crowd, tour guides will often hold a flag or umbrella up high so that their group can follow them easily. In John 16:13-14, Jesus teaches us the tools the Holy Spirit uses to show Himself to us so that we can faithfully follow His lead.

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1. Led by the Book

The Holy Spirit doesn't operate independently from the Word (John 14:23). Knowing and keeping God's Word is part and parcel of being in Christ by the Spirit. The Scriptures is the primary means the Holy Spirit uses to lead God's people in Christ's ways.

2. Led by the Body

Jesus doesn't speak to individuals in John 16:13-14. He doesn't say the Spirit will lead you (singular) into all truth. He says the Spirit will lead "yous" (plural) into all truth. we don’t relate to God primarily as individuals. We relate to Him as the Body of Christ, the community of His people, His church. To be led by the Spirit means to be led by the Body. 

3. Led by Bowing Down

In John 16:14, Jesus says the Spirit's job is to glorify Jesus. We glorify Him when we obey His commands (John 14:21). I believe the main reason we aren’t more led by the Spirit is that—if the Spirit told us what to do, we wouldn’t want to do it. Our hearts’ desire is not to obey. It’s to get our own way. To be led by the Spirit, we must be bowed down in heart and life to His will. 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Read 1 John 4:1-2 and 2 Peter 1:20-21. How is the Holy Spirit involved in leading God's people through the Scriptures? 
  2. Have there been times in your experience where the Bible has been used to judge, belittle, or even hate others? Have you been part of a Christian community that defined itself by what/who they are against? How can this quench the Spirit's work in a community's life?
  3. How do you see Paul being led by the Spirit through the Body in Acts 13:1-4? What can we learn from this for our own decision-making process?
  4. Do you make decisions in community, or do you make decisions on your own and then inform your church community? Why is the Body so important in being led by the Spirit?
  5. What is one decision/area in your life that you don't want to bow in submission to the Lord? Why is this hard to submit? How can you remember the truth of the gospel that submission to Christ by the Spirit is the good life? 
  6. What is one instance in your life where you felt clearly led by the Holy Spirit? How were you led by the Book? The Body? By bowing down?
  7. What is one area in your life where you would like to receive clear guidance from the Spirit? How will you pursue this in the Book? In the Body? By bowing down?

Sermon Recap: The Spirit and Prayer (John 14:13-14)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

In John 14:13-14, Jesus gives us a blank check to the bank of prayer, right in the midst of His most extensive teaching on the Holy Spirit. This indicates an inseparable connection between our prayer lives and the work of the Spirit.

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1. The Spirit's Role in Prayer

Blank checks don't do you any good if you can't find the bank or if there are insufficient funds behind the check. The Holy Spirit's first role in prayer is to intercede for us—to bring us to God in Christ, giving us access to the vault of heaven. And, the Spirit is the power of God to accomplish our prayers. Whenever we call upon the name of the Lord, we are calling down the very power and presence of God Himself!

2. The Spirit's Goal in Prayer

In John 14:13 and John 16:24, Jesus tells us the Spirit's goal is to glorify God and to give us joy. In fact, Jesus seems to indicate one of the key ways God gets glory is by pouring out grace and giving us joy. If we lack joy, we need only ask—the Spirit will accomplish His goal in prayer!

3. The Spirit's Dole in Prayer

A dole is a gift, a handout. What does the Spirit give us in prayer? He gives us Jesus Himself! Jesus shows this in John 14:18 & 23, and Paul reiterates it in 2 Corinthians 3:17. The Lord Jesus is so intimately bound up with the Spirit, that Paul says the Lord IS the Spirit! When the Spirit is with us, so is Christ! 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Depending on the Holy Spirit begins with prayer in our lives. What is your prayer life like right now? How frequently do you pray? Be honest. Tell the Lord!
  2. How do you pray? Do you pray like you flip on the light switch? Or do you pray in amazement that God Himself is with you whenever you pray? If you lack a sense of God's presence or joy, might you be simply going through the motions?
  3. How can you cultivate a sense of amazement and wonder in prayer? What is one practical thing you can do to grow in this?
  4. Do your prayers line up with Christ's name, His will (1 John 5:14-15)? Why or why not? 
  5. Do you lack joy in the Lord? Have you asked for it? Do you want it? 
  6. Do you believe that God Himself is present with you when you pray? If you see unbelief in your heart, repent and ask forgiveness! Then ask for faith in Christ's promises! (Pray Mark 9:24 if you need help.)

Sermon Recap: Being in Christ (John 15:1-17)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our current series, Life in the Spirit

Many people want to do powerful, radical things for God. We all want to be important. We all want to make an impact. Jesus is teaching us in this passage that the most radical thing we can DO for God is to BE—in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

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1. BE Because Christ’s Work is DONE

Branches don’t worry about bearing fruit. They bear fruit because they’re connected to their source of life and power. The day before Jesus went to the cross, He told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (v.13) We can BE in Christ and be connected to Him as our source of life and power by His own Spirit because His work has already been accomplished for us in His life, death, and resurrection. 

2. Being Bears Fruit

The Christian life is not about our hard work, our accomplishments. The best life we can live in this world is not achieved through our efforts or hard work. Christ calls us to BE in Him and that being will bear the fruit of love for others by the power of His Spirit in us.

3. Being Brings Joy

Christ did all that He did and sent His own Spirit to us so that our “joy may be full” (v.11). Love Himself walked the earth and died for us to BE with us so we could BE in Him by His Spirit. Joy in Christ comes by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Can you think of any other places in the Bible when God’s people won a victory or escaped their enemies because God delivered them (not because of what they did to save themselves)? Why do you think God works this way?
  2. Why is it so important for us to recognize that Christ’s work is already done? What might happen if we didn’t understand this?
  3. What is radical about being in Christ? Why is this the way for us to experience God’s power in our lives?
  4. What kind of fruit does God want us to bear? Name one particular place in your life you believe God wants you to bear fruit. How will you rely on the Spirit to bear fruit in you?
  5. Why do you think Jesus wants us to have joy? Why does obeying His commandments lead to joy in our lives? 
  6. Describe your prayer life. What is one time/place that you can “empty out” so you can simply BE in Christ by the Spirit? Commit to doing this for a week and journal your experience.