Living in the Word

Studying scripture is essential for those who want to truly follow Jesus Christ. The Bible is where we find God’s truth, which provides guidance and wisdom for living in accordance with His will. By immersing ourselves in scripture, we gain a deeper understanding of God’s character, His promises, and His commandments, which are vital for establishing a solid foundation of faith. This foundation enables us to face life’s challenges with confidence and hope.

Scripture acts as a guide for discipleship. Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels show us how to follow Him, love others, and serve with humility and compassion. Studying these teachings helps us understand the principles and practices that define the life of a disciple. It equips us to embody the values of the Kingdom of God and transforms our hearts and minds to align with His purpose, influencing our daily actions and interactions.

Regular engagement with scripture helps us build a closer relationship with God. The words of the Bible come to life through the Holy Spirit, speaking directly to our hearts and circumstances. This intimate communication strengthens our faith, deepens our love for Him, and empowers us to fulfill our calling as disciples. By studying and meditating on His Word, we grow in spiritual maturity, becoming more attuned to His voice and more committed to His mission. In essence, scripture is not just a book to be read but a living, dynamic force that shapes us into true followers of Christ.

Living in the Word

Called to Follow

Christians are called to be disciples because discipleship is at the core of following Jesus. When Jesus called His first disciples, He said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). This call was not just about learning from Him but also about living a life that mirrors His teachings and mission. Discipleship entails a deep, personal connection with Jesus, where believers are changed by His love and grace. As disciples, Christians commit to growing in their faith, embodying Christ-like qualities, and spreading the gospel to others, ensuring that the message of salvation reaches the ends of the earth.

Being a disciple also means embracing a life of constant learning and growth. Jesus instructed His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), which requires a dedication to grasping and applying His teachings in everyday life. Discipleship is not a one-time event but a lifelong journey of becoming more like Christ. This journey involves studying the Scriptures, engaging in prayer, participating in the Christian community, and seeking to understand God’s will. As disciples, Christians are equipped to face life’s challenges with faith and wisdom, making decisions that honor God and demonstrate His love to the world.

Also, discipleship promotes a sense of responsibility and community within the body of Christ. In the early church, believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship” (Acts 2:42), emphasizing the importance of learning and growing together. By being disciples, Christians support and encourage one another, building each other up in love and good works. This community helps believers to stay focused on their mission, provides strength during difficult times, and creates opportunities for mutual edification. In this way, discipleship not only strengthens individual faith but also fortifies the entire Christian community, enabling it to be a powerful witness to God’s transformative love.

For God so Loved the World: The Gift of the Son

Most of us know John 3:16 by heart: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s a verse we’ve seen everywhere—from bumper stickers to sporting events. But can we recite the next verse as easily? John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Jesus spoke these words when he was talking with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who sought Jesus under the cover of night, yearning to understand His teachings. This encounter not only presents us with the most beloved verse but also reveals the great truth about God’s love and Jesus’ mission.

On Trinity Sunday, we will look at the infinite love of the Father, the selfless mission of the Son, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. We will explore how understanding Jesus’ mission to save rather than to condemn can influence our approach to sharing the gospel.

Join us as we explore the depth of God’s love and how it calls us to reach out to everyone, especially those we might consider unworthy. Reflect on the all-encompassing scope of God’s love and our role in spreading this love through our actions and interactions. This message encourages us to see every person as a cherished creation of God and to live out the gospel with genuine compassion and empathy. If you are unable to join us in person, listen to the full sermon below.

Preserved from Evil – The Protective Prayer of Jesus on Mother’s Day

It’s a beautiful sight all to see mothers gently resting their hands on their children’s foreheads and whispering heartfelt prayers for their protection and guidance. This simple yet powerful gesture speaks volumes about the depth of a mother’s love and her fierce desire to keep her loved ones safe from harm. Mother’s Day is a special time for us to celebrate this unwavering maternal commitment and the incredible lengths moms go to shield their little ones.

This protective instinct is also reflected in a touching biblical moment, where Jesus pleads with His Father in John 17, asking not to take His followers out of this messy world but rather to protect them from evil as they navigate life’s many challenges. His request gets to the heart of the profound resilience and inner strength required to not just survive adversity but thrive in the midst of it. This resilience is mirrored in the steadfast love of a nurturing mother.

Just as moms don’t wish to remove their kids from the world entirely but instead hope to equip them with the courage and wisdom to face its harsh realities, so too did Jesus pray for His disciples’ safekeeping within the world, not separation from it. His prayer and a mother’s prayers flow from that same deep wellspring of loving hope, acting as beacons to guide loved ones through stormy seas, not avoiding those turbulent waters altogether.

These prayers aren’t about building a cozy bunker from life’s difficulties, but about cultivating an unshakeable inner sanctuary of strength, resilience, and faith to withstand whatever trials may come. At their core, these prayers share the sacred purpose of preparing loved ones to journey through adversity, not just shielding them completely.

While Jesus calls His followers to engage in this world’s issues and realities, He also challenges them – and us – to remain set apart from its toxic influences and temptations. This divine protection is not some lofty, esoteric concept but a tangible, ever-present source of help and deliverance. It’s the wisdom that guides tough ethical choices, the inner fortitude that helps us stand firm for our convictions when pressured to compromise, and the boldness to share our faith despite opposition. Like a nurturing mother preparing her children to navigate life’s challenges with wisdom and integrity, Christ equips us not just to survive this broken world but to engage with it fully while staying true to our sacred calling.

A Call to Sacrificial Love

In John 15:12-13, Jesus gives a final instruction to His followers, saying, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This mandate is the foundation of Christian ethical behavior, emphasizing love as the supreme virtue that should guide all actions, including the complex task of confronting sin. When we address wrongdoing within our communities, it’s essential that our approach is not just about enforcing moral laws but an expression of deep, sacrificial love. This approach reframes confrontation as an act of love and care rather than an act of judgment.

Confronting sin within this framework requires a balance of truth and grace. It means holding firm to God’s standards while extending the grace that God shows us every day. It challenges us to reflect on how Jesus interacted with sinners. He never compromised His message, yet always extended compassion and mercy. His interactions with the woman caught in adultery, or the tax collector Zacchaeus underscored His commitment to redeem rather than condemn. Applying this to our lives today means approaching those who err with an open, forgiving heart that hopes for reconciliation and restoration.

Practically, confronting sin with love and grace could look like having honest, private conversations instead of public callouts, which align more with biblical admonitions (Matthew 18:15-17). It involves actively listening and understanding the struggles of the other person, offering support and accountability without alienation. This process not only aids in healing the one being confronted but also nurtures a more compassionate community that mirrors the unconditional love of Christ. By emulating this love, believers set a profound example of how to live out the gospel in everyday interactions, making the church a faithful refuge and a beacon of hope in a world rife with judgment and division.

The Witness of Love in a Divided World

Living as a Christian in a world that’s divided presents some unique challenges and opportunities. There are sharp ideological divisions within societies and between them that might seem at odds with the call to love and unity that’s at the center of the Christian faith. As a Christian in such a world, you shouldn’t withdraw but engage more deeply, using the teachings of Jesus as a guide for navigating these turbulent waters. The call to “love your neighbor as yourself” extends beyond mere tolerance to compassion and empathy, reaching out to those from different backgrounds and beliefs and even those who oppose us politically or ideologically.

This approach to living isn’t just about coexisting, but about active peacemaking and bridge-building. Christians are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation, echoing the ministry of Christ, who reconciled humanity to God. This means striving to understand others, finding common ground, and working towards solutions that promote justice for all parties. It requires qualities such as patience, humility, and willingness to listen, which are often rare in public discourse. By embodying these virtues, Christians can help to soften hearts and open dialogues, fostering an environment where healing and understanding can flourish.

Additionally, living out your faith in a divided world requires courage. It challenges Christians to live out the gospel in ways that are countercultural, advocating for the voiceless and standing against injustices. This often means choosing the path of peace when others opt for conflict and offering forgiveness when retaliation is expected. Through such actions, Christians demonstrate a different way of being, one that reflects the hope and love of Christ in a world that desperately needs both.

Bible Study

Some of the research for this sermon. Reading it over before listening may provide more clarity when you listen to the sermon.

From Theory to Practice

1 John 3:16 offers insight into the nature of true love: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” This scripture cuts to the heart of Christian doctrine, illustrating that sacrificial love isn’t just a lofty ideal but a concrete action demonstrated by Christ Himself. His willingness to give up His life for the sake of humanity is the ultimate example of love—a love that is selfless, unconditional, and sacrificial. 

This type of love challenges us to look beyond our needs and comforts to consider how we can genuinely serve others. It calls for a love that is active and engaged, willing to make significant sacrifices for the well-being of others. This might mean offering time, resources, or support in ways that truly cost us something. Christ’s example pushes us to question the depth of our love for those around us, urging us to love not just in easy, comfortable ways but deeply and sacrificially. 

Emulating this love means seeing others’ needs and responding to them with the same urgency and generosity Jesus showed. It requires a willingness to put others’ well-being ahead of our own and to act with compassion even when it is inconvenient or challenging. This sacrificial love is transformative—not only for those who receive it but also for those who give it, molding us more into the likeness of Christ. 

An Unfinished Story: Our Role in God’s Narrative

In the stillness of dawn, as the first rays of sunlight pierced the darkness, three women approached the tomb of Jesus with heavy hearts and spices in their hands, intending to anoint His body. This moving scene from Mark 16:1-8 captures a moment of deep grief and the cusp of an extraordinary revelation—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the opened tomb, an angelic figure announced the unthinkable, “He has risen; he is not here,” their initial reaction was terror and amazement. This narrative invites us, as modern-day Christians, to reflect deeply on our approach to faith, especially in the face of the unknown and the seemingly impossible.

The angel’s message to the women, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you,” underscores a fundamental aspect of Christian life: the call to witness. Just as the women were told to share the news of Jesus’ resurrection, we are to be messengers of hope and redemption in a world that often seems empty of both. This task requires courage and conviction, especially when met with skepticism or indifference. It challenges us to live out our faith visibly and authentically, embodying the Gospel’s transformative power in our daily interactions and choices.

The resurrection narrative emphasizes the importance of faith in the face of uncertainty. Despite their fear and astonishment, the women were willing to step into the unknown, trusting in the words of Jesus and the angel. This speaks volumes about the nature of faith—it’s not about having all the answers or seeing the whole staircase but taking the first step in trust. As followers of Christ, we should not lean on our own understanding but trust in the promises of God, even when they defy our expectations or ability to understand. This requires surrendering control, a willingness to embrace mystery, and an openness to seeing God work in unexpected ways.

The women’s reaction—to flee from the tomb in silence, despite being commanded to speak—reflects our own hesitations and fears in proclaiming our faith. It’s a human response to divine encounters marked by awe and trepidation. Yet, their eventual obedience, leading to the spread of the good news, illustrates the transformative journey of faith. Each of us is on a similar journey, called to move beyond our fears, to find our voice, and to share the message of Christ’s love and resurrection. In doing so, we affirm our belief in the risen Lord and invite others into a life-changing relationship with Him.

Bible Study

Some of the research for this sermon. Reading it over before listening may provide more clarity when you listen to the sermon.

An Unfinished Story: Our Role in God’s Narrative

Entering Holy Week: Journey with Jesus

In Mark 11:2-3, Jesus instructs His disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” At first glance, this passage tells a simple story of preparation for Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Yet, it holds deep insights into how Jesus transforms us for His divine purposes, just as He did with the unbroken colt.

The colt, having never been ridden, represents untapped potential and purity. No one had used it for any purpose before, yet Jesus chose it for an incredibly significant role. This selection speaks to how Jesus sees beyond our current state beyond our current circumstances and recognizes us as Christ carriers. He calls us, often in our unrefined and untamed states, to carry His presence and gospel into the world, transforming us into vessels fit for His use.

The transformation of the colt is not just about the use of the animal but about it being part of a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry—His entry into Jerusalem. This reflects how Jesus’ touch can change our ordinary lives into extraordinary testimonies of His love and power. Just as the colt’s calling from Jesus changes it from a simple village animal into a bearer of the King of Kings, Jesus transforms our lives, shaping us to carry His message of hope and salvation.

Moreover, the disciples’ act of obedience in fetching the colt without question emphasizes the role of faith in our transformation. Just as they trusted Jesus’ instructions, even when they seemed unusual, we are called to trust in Jesus’ plan for our lives. Our faith and obedience allow Him to work through us, making us into instruments that bring His presence into every place we go, just like the colt carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

Finally, this story is a call to humility. The colt, a lowly animal, was elevated to a place of honor by carrying the Messiah. In the same way, Jesus often uses the humble and the overlooked to display His glory. Our transformation and calling are not for our own glorification but for carrying Jesus into the world, to spread His message of peace, love, and salvation. As we reflect on this passage, let us embrace the transformation Jesus offers, becoming bearers of His presence, and moving forward in obedience and humility.

Bible Study

Some of the research for this sermon. Reading it over before listening may provide more clarity when you listen to the sermon.

A New Covenant: Hearts Transformed by God

Christianity is not, nor has it ever been, about how well we follow the rules. It’s about a spiritual connection with God that brings out our best self.

Two neighbors, Eli and Noel, lived in the heart of the city, nestled between gleaming skyscrapers and bustling streets. Eli lived in a traditional house that was a testament to the old ways. His life was governed by strict rules and rituals handed down through generations, reminiscent of the Old Covenant, where adherence to the law was paramount. Every action, every decision, was measured against the unyielding standards of his ancestors. It was a life of discipline and order but also constant scrutiny and an overwhelming burden to maintain purity through one’s own efforts.

Next door, Noel thrived in a modern home filled with light and open spaces. Her approach to life was guided by the principles of the New Covenant, embodying grace and forgiveness. Noel lived knowing that imperfections were part of the human condition. Instead of striving for an unattainable ideal through strict adherence to rules, she focused on the spirit of love, acceptance, and personal growth. Her life was a journey of learning and transformation, where mistakes were not counted against her but were stepping stones to becoming a better person.

The contrast between Eli and Noel’s lives was striking, especially when faced with challenges. When Eli made a mistake, it was followed by days of atonement, rituals to cleanse himself of the failure, and the heavy weight of disappointment. The laws he lived by offered a clear path but demanded perfection, leaving little room for error or forgiveness. His world was black and white, governed by the law’s clear boundaries of right and wrong.

On the other hand, Noel found strength and resilience in her mistakes. When she faltered, she leaned on the understanding that grace was abundant and forgiveness was always within reach. Her relationship with God was not based on fear of punishment but on the love and acceptance that came from knowing she had value beyond her failures. This freedom allowed Noel to live more fully, embracing life’s joys and challenges without the fear of falling short of rigid standards.

The story of Eli and Noel illustrates the transformative power of living under the New Covenant of Grace compared to the Old Covenant of the Law. Eli’s life, governed by the rigid adherence to rules, shows the burden and limitations of trying to achieve righteousness on one’s own. In contrast, Noel’s journey, guided by grace, offers a vision of life that is liberating, forgiving, and rooted in love. We must remember that while the law teaches us the parameters of right and wrong, grace empowers us to rise above our imperfections and live lives marked by compassion, forgiveness, and personal growth.

The new covenant that Jeremiah wrote about in Jeremiah 31:31-34 was one where there was equality and forgiveness for all. During the Last Supper, Jesus held up the cup and said, “This is the blood of the new covenant, for the forgiveness of sins.” Our entrance into heaven is a matter of grace rather than adherence to the rules. Our access to transformed and meaningful lives in this world is an acceptance of grace. It moves us to live up to it by our actions, our words.

Click the image to learn why God gave the Law even though we are unable to keep it.