Baptism

Exemple

Prayer

Prayer Banner - 2015

“Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.” -John Piper 

PRAYER GATHERINGS

Sunday Mornings at 8:45 AM | Pre-Service Prayer at the church
Tuesday Mornings at 6:30 AM | Remedy Office

Prayer is essential to the believer’s life. Prayer is like air to the lungs – necessary, constant, both automatic and purposed; without prayer, we die. Through prayer we acknowledge our need for God, for His strength, for His wisdom, for His intervention, and for His grace. It is through prayer that we, by His divine and sovereign will, move the heart of God to save.

Prayer is not a hotline for instant answers or God’s Google. Prayer is the means for mission and God’s design to move His mission forward for His glory. God chooses to use us in the process of mission and mission keeps us dependent on Him. Mission keeps us in prayer.

God is the only one who can accomplish and complete the mission. He is the only one who can redeem and restore. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). God establishes His church, not man (Matthew 16:18).

If we find ourselves unmotivated to pray, it may be we have lost sight of our purpose and mission in life:

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:18-19

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 1 Timothy 2:1-8

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 22:29-31

This short segment from a sermon by David Platt summarizes the importance of prayer; I hope you find it encouraging:

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Last night in CG a question was asked regarding the doctrine of election. I thought the answer might be helpful to others as well. (A caveat: brilliant men have been debating this topic for centuries and have not come to an agreement and thousands of books have been written on this topic. I understand the following is a simple answer for, what appears to be, a complex issue. I reason that God’s ways are much higher than ours and although we strive to gain complete understanding, as we should, we will never have that until we, without the fog of the flesh, see Him. Until then grace prevail.) As we look at the doctrine of election we must also keep in mind that the Gospel is about glorifying God and not man’s ego.

If God chooses us and we don’t have a choice, aren’t we like robots?

In the garden, our original parents had it all: A perfect relationship with their creator and with each other. As evidence, the Bible says they were naked and were not ashamed. There was no shame because there was no sin. Their eyes were perfectly fixed on their creator and on each other, NOT themselves. They had the freedom to roam, to work, to eat, to love. They loved each other and they loved God. God gave them an opportunity to demonstrate that love through obedience. He told them not to eat from one tree; He placed no other restrictions upon them. Each time they passed that tree in obedience they declared their love for God (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2). One day they did not love God more than themselves and they disobeyed, they sinned. Through their disobedience, sin entered mankind.

Sin was passed down to all men (Romans 5:12). The Bible tells us that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and are slaves to sin. We do not have an option, we will sin (Romans 6:16-23). But God chose us (Ephesians 1:4). He opened our eyes, gave us understanding to see our need, understanding of who He is and what He has done (1 Peter 1:3). Like Saul, when the scales fell from his eyes, he rose and was baptized (Acts 9). We choose Him because He chose us. We are believers because we are born again, regenerated in an instant (1 John 5:1). We also love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). In responding to God’s effective call in our lives He then sets us free from sin. That is the power of the cross: We are no longer bound by sin. We have the freedom to obey (Romans 6:1-4). We do not always obey (Romans 6-7). We all sin, so we are not robots, but as our time with Jesus grows we sin less. That is the process of sanctification, becoming more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).

So effectively by God choosing us we have more freedom, not less. We are freed from sin to obedience. Apart from Jesus we would not have this freedom. Our obedience to Him is a demonstration of our love and His great grace.

Remember the study of doctrine should increase our devotion and desire for Jesus. It is not a quest for more knowledge but a pursuit to know Him who is worthy of our full attention and affection. He has called us to Himself. He has brought us from darkness to light, He loved us when we were His enemies. We may not fully understand today but our hearts should burst with gratitude and our mouths be filled with His praise.

 

 

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Philippians 3:10 ESV

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”

To share in the sufferings of Christ…typically not the first thing on our “to do” list in the morning. Especially when we are not even sure what that means or what that would look like today. Yes, Jesus suffered beyond our comprehension on the cross, physically, emotionally and the greatest suffering of all, spiritual. He took the wrath of God for us, for our sin. But I think there was a much more common suffering of Jesus: To bear the burden of living in a fallen world with the mind and heart of God. He saw the consequences of sin driven through selfishness and pride. He truly lived in the world but not of it. He smelled the fallen world as he passed the poor who had not bathed, he heard the cries of the diseased and outcast. He saw and experienced injustice. His heart must have been broken daily as he walked the streets of His creation. Corruption ruled. Jesus looked on the crowds but was mostly unrecognized. He was scorned but had compassion.

He wept over Jerusalem, how He longed to hold that City, but they would not have it. Rejected by those He came to save, still He loved. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus was troubled, His heart heavy to the point of death, knowing He would carry the burden, the weight of God’s wrath for the sins of the world.

Jesus did not suffer unwillingly. He was compelled by His love for the Father and His creation.

We are called to share in that suffering. To carry that weight, no, not the wrath of God but the heart of God. Sin and its consequences are all around us: Broken lives, broken families, self-destructive behaviors, injustice, the abuse of widows, orphans, abortion, slavery and the list goes on. But we do not see it. The fallen world does not break our hearts. Maybe we are too much like the world and not enough like Jesus. Maybe we are so wet with compromise, indifference and sin we don’t notice we are walking through the water of this world. But as we become like Him, as we are changed from one degree of glory to the next, we will see. We will become uncomfortable in this world! We will begin to share in His suffering of a heavy heart, compassion for the lost and anger over sin. Maybe we will be looked upon as an outcast, politically incorrect or a Bible fanatic; less like the world but more like Jesus. The following is Bonhoeffer’s observation of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus.

“Every additional Beatitude deepens the breach between the disciples and the people. The disciples’ call becomes more and more visible. Those who mourn are those who are prepared to renounce and live without everything the world calls happiness and peace. They are those who cannot be brought into accord with the world, who cannot conform to the world. They mourn over the world, its guilt, its fate, and its happiness…. No one understands people better than Jesus’ community. No one loves people more than Jesus’ disciples․that is why they stand apart, why they mourn; it is meaningful and lovely that Luther translates the Greek word for what is blessed with “to bear suffering.” The important part is the bearing. The community of disciples does not shake off suffering, as if they had nothing to do with it. Instead they bear it. In doing so, they give witness to their connection with the people around them. At the same time this indicates that they do not arbitrarily seek suffering, that they do not withdraw into willful contempt for the world. Instead, they bear what is laid upon them and what happens to them in discipleship for the sake of Jesus Christ. Finally, disciples will not be weakened by suffering, worn down, and embittered until they are broken. Instead, they bear suffering, by the power of him who supports them. The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in communion with the Crucified. They stand as strangers in the power of him who was so alien to the world that it crucified him.” (40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer BookCopyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)

Suffering is not a means to an end or the end goal. Suffering arrives at our doorstep in many forms. Suffering as Jesus suffered comes as our hearts are conformed to His. As our world view is more influenced by Jesus than the world and as our hearts beat for the heavenlies and not the earthly we will suffer as Christ suffered. As we weep for the lost souls and those the enemy has deceived we will suffer. It will be in those times we experience the power of the resurrection, the hope of glory and the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation.

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Exemple

God is relentless in His pursuit of man and has been from the beginning of time. Even after man walked away from God in the garden of Eden through his disobedience, God pursued him and sought him out. God pursued man throughout the ages using prophets, priests and kings to point mankind back to Himself. Even in the garden, God pursued man through the promise of a coming Savior. He established a covenant to show His unconditional love and plan. He gave us the law to show us our need for a Savior and the Holiness of the God who pursued us. Man in turn rejected the prophets of God who proclaimed His love and impending judgement. Man ignored the priests who ministered the sacraments and sacrifices. Man overcame the kings who attempted to lead them into God’s presence. But God’s love and pursuit of man continued in spite of man’s pride, apathy, and outright rebellion. God pursued man for His glory, for His purposes, by His power, for the good of man.

Man has been at odds with God almost from the beginning. Created in perfect relationship with God, having every need met and content, man believed a lie. The lie…”There is more. I can be more. I can be like God.” Man rebelled against God and began competing with God for the seat of glory driven by pride. That drive for glory, for being god, for control of things that are outside of our understanding, has hardened our collective hearts and driven us far from our creator. In fact, the Bible says that at one time we were all enemies of God.

Enemies yes, but God is relentless. The Bible also tell us that while we were enemies of His, He (Jesus) died for us.  What?!!!  We rejected Him and were His enemies, but He still loved us. God wanted a relationship with us. He made a way for man to be reconciled to Himself even when we did not want to be.

RELENTLESS – UNWANTED – LOVE

Join us as we follow Jesus in His last days leading up to the cross. The cross, the final demonstration of God’s relentless love. The cross, the great demonstration of man’s rebellion and pride. Join us as we look at the cost of God’s love, the cost of Grace and we walk the road to the resurrection.

Sundays March 10, 17, 24, and 31 (Easter)

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In Exodus 13 and 14 we read of God leading the children of Israel once they are out of Egypt’s firm grasp and starting their journey. He does so with a deliberateness that leads to His glory and the development of greater faith among His people. We are told He does not lead them by way of the Philistines (Ex. 13:17), although that is the shorter route, because He knew they would see war, be disheartened and return to Egypt. It was too early in their Journey for that step. They had not known Him long enough and had just begun to see His mighty works; to experience His faithfulness. Their faith had not been fully developed. Although they may have heard some of the stories of Joseph from a time past, hundreds of years before, those were memories of previous generations. Yes, they had seen the plagues, but who was this God, the “I AM”?

They may not have known their God but He knew them and He knows us. He knew their propensity to run, to be a stiff-necked people, to turn to the comfort of the known no matter how bad it was. Does that sound familiar?  So God leads them to a place where their backs were to the Red Sea and they would see the massive Egyptian army coming their way. They were trapped! There was no option but for God to work, to demonstrate His faithfulness and power. He wanted them to know Him more than comfort, more than the familiar. He loves us enough to strip away the comforts of our lives, to take away those things that stand in between us and Him. Could God be trusted? Can God be trusted? There was no option remaining. Reluctant, unwilling, fearful people cried out in despair, “Why?”. Moses, who knew the Lord, stood in their stead and called upon them to trust their God, to watch God deliver. Moses pointed the people to their one and only deliverer. And again, it was God demonstrating that He is the only way of salvation. It is He who leads us out of bondage and into the promised land, into a relationship with Himself. The richness of that relationship is grown as we see God work in and through our lives. Sometimes that is through a Red Sea experience because there are no other ways to learn some lessons. Those are not times of abandonment or moments where God has temporarily forgotten but deliberate acts of GRACE to move us into greater intimacy with Jesus. God will do all that is necessary and only what is necessary for His glory and our good.

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