Jeremiah: Shattered Story

June 25, 2017

 

THE SERMON

This summer, we are studying the story of Jeremiah, otherwise known as “the weeping prophet.” Jeremiah’s story is a tragic one, yet it reveals to us the things that break God’s heart. As we study the life of Jeremiah in a season where the heart of God and the words of his prophet and the nation of his people are shattered, our prayer is that our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart.

You can watch past sermons here.

 

Continuing our series in Jeremiah, Lead Minister, Sy Huffer, expresses the importance of sowing a heart to reap a story.

 

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the topic of the sermon:

Pray: How is God calling you to sow a heart and reap a story? What area of your heart needs to be dug into? Pray the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

Speak: Who do you know that is asking the question, “How did I end up here?” Who do you know that is reaping a story and doesn’t see the connection between their story and their heart? What does it look like for you to share with them the good news that Jesus offers for their heart and their story?

Grow: Do you resonate with that TV show, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events? Do you constantly feel like your life is “shattered”? How is God calling you to sow your heart during this season? How is God calling you to become more like him, even when you don’t feel his presence?

Love: Who do you know that needs to be loved in the midst of their “How did I end up here” season?


UPCOMING EVENTS

Car Care

9:00 AM–12:00 NOON, Saturday, June 24

Qualified volunteers provide basic car service (change the oil, check fluid levels and tire pressure, etc.) for single moms, the elderly, and those experiencing financial difficulty. Contact Chris at 417.291.6819 to schedule an appointment.

 

College Age Summer

We try to do something every night of the week at 7:00 PM because we know you have free time to fill! Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter  to stay in the loop!

 

Congregational Vote

In keeping with the church’s bylaws, this Sunday we will be having a congregational vote on our budget. 

 
Posted on June 22, 2017 .

Jeremiah: Shattered Heart

June 11, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Continuing to explore the beginning portions of Jeremiah, Family Minister, Titus Neuenschwander, shows us that God chooses to love us even more than protecting his own reputation.

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the theme of the message.

Pray: Pray that God would allow you to see yourself through His eyes. Read Ephesians 3:3-14 if you need a little reminder.

Speak: What is something God has done that allows you to “boast” about him? Tell someone this week.

Grow: What strength, skill, position, knowledge, or other thing have you given too much weight in your identity? What are the negative effects of doing this? Where is the starting place of seeing your identity solely in Jesus?

Love: God showed us his love by what he was willing to lose. What does it look like to love others in the same way?


VBS RECAP


UPCOMING EVENTS

WOMEN’S INDOOR POTLUCK PICNIC

6:00–8:00 PM, Wednesday, June 21, Atrium

Bring picnic food to share and invite friends to share in this evening of fun! 

CAR CARE

9:00 AM–12:00 NOON, Saturday, June 24

Qualified volunteers provide basic car service (change the oil, check fluid levels and tire pressure, etc.) for single moms, the elderly, and those experiencing financial difficulty. Contact Chris at 417.291.6819 to schedule an appointment.

SUMMER YOUTH ACTIVITIESRegister at chjoplin.org/register

Beginner Camp—K & 1st Grade     July 15           $35

Kids’ Camp— 2nd-4th Grade        July 20-22     $90

5th Grade Camp                            July 16-19     $130

CIY MIX   6th-8th Grade               June 19-23    $375

CIY MOVE   9th-12th Grade          July 9-15      $450

 
Posted on June 14, 2017 .

Jeremiah: Shattered Promise

June 5, 2017

 

This summer, we are studying the story of Jeremiah, otherwise known as “the weeping prophet.” Jeremiah’s story is a tragic one, yet it reveals to us the things that break God’s heart. And as we study the life of Jeremiah in a season where the heart of God and the words of his prophet and the nation of his people are shattered, our prayer is that our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart.


 

QUICK OVERVIEW OF JEREMIAH

By The Bible Project


 

THE SERMON

 

Lead Minister, Sy Huffer, searches for an answer from the book of Jeremiah to the question, "How do you pick up the piece of a shattered life?"


 

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the theme of the message.

Pray: Sy asked the question: How do you pick up the pieces of a shattered life? Do you feel this way? Commit to praying to God about your feelings of your life being shattered. 

Speak: Who do you know that you need to forgive? Who keeps giving you hell? Who do you need to speak to about the hurts and pain in your life? 

Grow: Who do you need to forgive? The book of Jeremiah reveals God's justice and mercy coming into the moment of Jesus dying on the cross. What does it look like to follow in Christ's footsteps and forgive injustice and stop the hate cycle? 

Love: Who do you need to give heaven to even though they keep giving you hell? Who needs to learn of the love of Jesus who died the death we deserved by absorbing God's justice upon himself on the cross?

 
Posted on June 7, 2017 .

When You Don't See God...Follow

May 28, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Concluding our series, "When You Don't See God" from the book of Ruth, Lead Minister, Sy Huffer, reminds that even when you aren't sure, you follow God.

THE QUESTIONS

Use these question to further explore the theme of the message:

Pray: What do you need to “cry” about today? What is going on in your life that you have no control over and overwhelms your thoughts and feelings? What does it look like to pray about these things and give them over to God?

Speak: Who do you know that needs to be challenged to step into the mystery of following God? Who is in the midst of one of those seasons where they don’t see God? Commit to helping them walk through the Control Divide (Cry and Commit).

Grow: How can your faith in God grow because of the story of Ruth? What does it look like to follow God towards his mysterious future the way Ruth did?

Love: How can you, like Boaz, love others? How does the letter of the law prevent us from pursuing the spirit of the law? How can you go the extra mile to love those the way Boaz did?

At Vacation Bible School this year we are learning about The Kingdom! Join us as we learn what The Kingdom is and how we can be a part of it. You can register below to sign up your student or to volunteer.

 
Posted on June 1, 2017 .

When You Don't See God...Commit

May 21, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

In our continued series on Ruth, lead pastor Sy Huffer faces the question, "What to do you do when there is nothing else to do?"

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the theme of the message:

Pray: What is God calling you to that seems unthinkable? How can praying help clarify whether he truly is calling to you that? Make sure whatever you think God is calling you to matches his character and will that is revealed in the Bible.

Speak: Who can help you walk through a season when you feel like you don’t see God? Who do you know that is asking the question: “What do you do when there is nothing else to do?” If you are struggling with what God is calling you to, who can you speak to? 

Grow: How does the idea of committing to God even when you don’t see him challenge you? Does it make you angry or rub you the wrong way? How does it stretch you in your faith?

Love: Loving others can sometimes make a lot more sense then loving God. It is easier to understand, yet still difficult to do. Yet Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” Loving God=obeying God. What does it look like to commit to God, to love him, even when you don’t see him at work?

 
Posted on June 1, 2017 .

When You Don't See God...Cry

May 14, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

In this series in the book of Ruth, Dr. Mark Scott reminds us that when we don't see God, we can cry out to Him.

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the theme of Sunday's message.

Pray: Do you internalize the hurts of this world? The story of Ruth starts out with news of a famine (1:1). Famines happen due to fallen creation, war, and sometimes evil systems. In a world of weight watchers there are people starving--even some believers. Pray for people experiencing famine.

Speak: Boaz's servant spoke on behalf of hard-working Ruth (2:6-7). He advocated for her. He told her story. When was the last time you used your tongue to advocate for someone else? We are to speak for those who have no voice. Who needs you to advocate for them?

Love: It hard to improve on the loyal love of Ruth for her mother-in-law, Naomi (1:16-17). Love often shows up as loyalty. Who needs your loyalty today. Someone from your own family? Someone from your neighborhood? Find such a person and ask what love should do for that person.

Grow: The longer we walk with the Lord the more we notice his tender grace in our lives. Sometimes it shows up by people being very generous with us (2:16). Do you do well when people show you outrageous generosity? Have you learned the humble grace of receiving? Does pride block your ability to grow in this important discipline?

 

SPECIAL WORKSHOP

6:30 PM, Wednesday, May 24, K120

Infertility, miscarriage, and infant death can be a silent pain. We care. For those wanting to move through the emotions that can accompany loss, we invite you to this gathering. Dr. Jeremey Wolfe, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Ann Wolfe, Early Childhood Minister, will lead our discussion. Children’s programming will be provided, but please sign up by May 21. For questions or to sign up for children’s programming, contact Ann Wolfe at awolfe@chjoplin.org or x130.

 
Posted on May 18, 2017 .

Is There Hope For A New Start?

May 9, 2017

 

What a great Sunday! We had 24 people say YES to Jesus and get baptized last weekend!

THE SERMON

 

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister, encourages us to look to Christ for times of refreshing as we commit and recommit our lives to Him.

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the theme of the message.

Pray: Is it time for you to take a step and repent, turn to God, have your sins wiped away so that times of refreshing may come? Pray and ask God to reveal to you the future that He wants to give you.

Speak: Peter and John, in Acts 3, were open to speaking to the man who had a need. They were open to interruptions. Are you? What does it look like to speak to others that are in dire need of a new future?

Grow: Do you need a new future? Do you need to be saved in the midst of the present? Are there issues from the past that you can’t seem to overcome? What does it look like to have hope in Jesus for a new life?

Love: Sy told a story about a church member going up to a new baptized believer and telling them their name and offering them help in any way. Is this how you approach new people coming into the church? How can you intentionally help your community to be one where new people can come and belong in Christian community?


THE ANNOUNCEMENTS

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

It’s time! Volunteers and students may now sign up here. VBS is available for 4 year olds - current 5th graders. We would love to have every student join us for an amazing week where we explore what it looks like to live in God’s Kingdom! If you have any questions call Cathy Cook, Youth Team Assistant, x151. 

 

SENIOR ADULT LUNCH

11:00 AM, Monday, May 8, SMB Community Center

Join us for our PrimeTimers fellowship and lunch at $5.00 per person. Judy Henderson and her singing group will be our special guests. All friends and family welcome.

 

JOB OPENING

We have an opening for a weekend custodian that would involve working both Saturday and Sunday on alternating weekends. Contact Steve Dennis, Facilities Manager, at sdennis@chjoplin.org or x120.

 

GRADUATION SUNDAY IS MAY 21!

We want to celebrate your high school and college seniors! Fill out the form here so that we can celebrate with you on Graduation Sunday! Deadline to submit info is May 15.

 

 
Posted on May 10, 2017 .

Is There Hope For Us?

May 1, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister at College Heights, reminds us that we all have a hand in the messes we find ourselves in, but that hope in Jesus can save us in the midst of our present mess.

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the topic of the message:

Pray: We all live in the midst of a mess. How can prayer reveal to you how you have had a role in creating that mess? In your prayers ask the Lord to reveal to you the hand that you have in the mess that you are in.

Speak: Who can you talk toabout your role in the mess of your family, your work, or your friend group? Who is safe that you can be open with? If you don’t have anyone, find out about joining a small group by going to the Next Steps Coffee.

Grow: The Jews asked, “What shall we do to be saved?” Peter’s response was, “Repent! Change direction! Make a U-Turn!” What does it look like for you to stop doing what you are currently doing that is creating a mess, and to change direction? What is one thing you can change?

Love: Maybe you are in a funk and you are wondering, “Is there hope for me, for us, for a new start?” How can the love of Jesus shown for you on the cross make a difference in your life?

 

THIS COMING SUNDAY

We’ve had such a great response prior to Baptism Sunday that we have decided to keep our two normal service times of 9:15 and 11:00 AM! (We previously announced that we were having only one service.) In addition,

  • There will be NO Bible School for middle school through adults.

  • We will NOT have LaunchPad during the 9:15 AM service.
  • The Kids' Choir WILL be performing at 11:00 AM in the Chapel.

  • Early Childhood (KidCadets, Toddler Town, Baby City) WILL have programming as usual during both services.

We're so excited for this day and the celebration of new life in Jesus who gives us HOPE!

 
Posted on May 1, 2017 .

Is There Hope for Me?

April 25, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister at College Heights, reminds us that Jesus gives us hope for our past and encourages us to surrender our sin to Him.

No matter your past, Jesus died the death we deserve, and he rose again, defeating death and offering all of us new life, life beyond our past, beyond our mistakes, beyond our failure, beyond the beast inside each and every one of us.
— Sy Huffer

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to help you further explore the theme of Sy's message:

Pray: Who do you know that needs prayer about overcoming their past? Ask the Lord in your prayer life to show you how Jesus overcomes your past.

Speak: Who do you know that needs to hear the good news that Jesus can overcome their past? Write a list of names of people that are close to you and far from God, and commit to speaking to them about the hope we have in Jesus.

Grow: What does it look like to live in the present with hope in Jesus who has wiped away your past, your failures, your shame, your guilt? How can you grow in your understanding of Jesus’ victory over sin, over your past, over your hurts?

Love: Why is the hope we have in Jesus so key to dealing with the issues of our past? Who do you love that is simply stuck in their past? Do you love yourself the way Jesus loves you, in spite of your mistakes and failures? Do you truly believe that you have hope through Jesus’ death and resurrection?

 

 
Posted on April 26, 2017 .

Easter Weekend Recap

April 18, 2017

 

GOOD FRIDAY SERMON

 

Teaching Minister, Dr. Shane Wood, reminds us that God is a God of empathy and invites us to empathize with Jesus on Good Friday.

 

EASTER SUNDAY SERMON

 

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister at College Heights, reminds us who was at the first Easter party and invites us join in the celebration of resurrection hope.

 
Who do you find at an Easter Party?

At Jesus’ Easter party, You find the outcasts, the outliers, the outsiders. You find the rejected, the ejected and the dejected. You find the unwanted, the unwelcomed, and the undesired.

You find the most unlikely, you find those who need a party yet feel like they belong at a funeral.

You find the hopeless, the hurting, the holed up. You find those feeling despair, disdain and depression. You find every kind of person from every kind of place from every kind of background asking the question, “Is there hope?”

And here is the good news of Easter, The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now.

And at his easter party, you can find YOU there.

You can have hope because Jesus is alive.

So we want to invite you to our Easter party today!
 
 
 
 
 

THE QUESTIONS

Use these to further explore the theme of the message:

Pray: Are you living in the Shadow of the Cross or in the Hope of the Resurrection? Pray and ask God to reveal to you the hope that you have in Jesus’ Kingdom.

Speak: The book of Mark ends with people NOT speaking. The point is that we have a choice in how we are going to respond to the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So who are you going to speak to about the good news that Jesus’ death and resurrection offers us?

Grow: What aspect of this world (Old Creation) are you tired of living in? How can you redeem it? How can you transform the mess of life into the alternate way of life that Jesus and His kingdom offers us?

Love: Who do you know that needs to be at an Easter party? Who needs to be invited into the community of Jesus? Who is the outsider that needs to be welcomed into your life?

 

 
 
 
Posted on April 20, 2017 .

Holy Week: Resurrection Sunday

 

Reflect

As you read this, try putting yourself in the difference scenes of Luke 24. Take time as you go through it. Ask God to reveal Himself as you do. 

 

Read: Luke 24:1-49

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.”

Then they remembered that He had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell His eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and He was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed Him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified Him. We had hoped He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of His followers were at His tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said His body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive!  Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, His body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if He were going on, but they begged Him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So He went home with them. 

As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized Him as He was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

“Why are you frightened?” He asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As He spoke, he showed them His hands and His feet.

Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He ate it as they watched. Then He said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And He said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of His name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.” You are witnesses of all these things.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

 

Pray

Pray that God will help you understand the magnitude of the resurrection!

 
Posted on April 16, 2017 .

Holy Week: Saturday

 

Read: Matthew 27:62-66

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’  So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

 

Reflect

Notice the name the religious elite call Jesus? Why would they think that? 

 

Observe

The priests went to Pilate the next day with a request that shows their defiance. In order to make certain that Jesus was finally out of the way, they were willing to break their own most sacred laws concerning the Sabbath. What they didn’t realize is that there was not a tomb in the world which could imprison the risen Christ. God is in control and nothing will hold Him back from his purposes. 

 

Pray

Surrender the areas in your life that you want to control and allow God to take over.

 
Posted on April 15, 2017 .

Holy Week: Friday Part 2

 

Read: Matthew 27:27-54

Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on His head, and they placed a reed stick in His right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before Him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on Him and grabbed the stick and struck Him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him again. Then they led Him away to be crucified.

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”).  The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when He had tasted it, He refused to drink it.

After they had nailed Him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice.

Then they sat around and kept guard as He hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against Him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left.

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at Him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. He saved others, they scoffed, “but He can’t save himself! So He is the King of Israel, is He? Let Him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in Him!  He trusted God, so let God rescue Him now if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with Him ridiculed Him in the same way.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to Him on a reed stick so He could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save Him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

 

Observe

On the cross, the weight of the world’s evil really did converge upon Jesus, blotting out the sunlight of God’s love as surely as the light of the day was blotted out for three hours. Jesus “gave His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). The sin of the “many,” which He was bearing, for the first and only time in His experience, caused a cloud to come between Him and the Father He loved and obeyed, the Father who had been delighted in Him. And because Jesus was God’s Son, He had to stay on the cross. That would be the way the world would be saved. That would be how death was defeated. That would be how He finished the work the Father had given Him to do. That would be how the Father’s delight would be complete. 

 

Reflect

As you read this passage of Scripture, take your time with it. Reading Scripture isn’t just for information but for transformation. Allow the Holy Spirit to communicate to you through His Word. 

 

 

Pray

Pray for a sincere sense of repentance from sin. Offer thanks and praise to Christ for remaining on the cross and completing the work of the Father.

 
Posted on April 14, 2017 .

Holy Week: Friday Part 1

 

Read: Matthew 26:36-44

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and bowed with His face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

So He went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then He came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. 

But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the 

hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

 

Reflect

Put your devotional down. Take time to pray to God. 

Whatever is on your heart, our loving Father wants to hear it. 

 

Observe

Jesus could see, as though it was before His eyes, the cup (v. 39). This was not the cup of the Last Supper but the cup He had mentioned to James and John in Matthew 20:22-23, the cup the prophets had spoken of, the cup of God’s wrath. Here for the second time in the Gospel narrative (the first time being the temptation story in Matthew 4:11) we see 

Jesus fighting in private the spiritual battle He needed to win. As He prepared to stand in public and speak, and live, and die for God’s kingdom. 

 

 

Pray

Worship the Lord and thank Him for drinking the cup of God’s wrath for you. Pray that you will not abandon Him when things are tough. Thank Him for seeing His mission through to the end.

 
Posted on April 14, 2017 .

Holy Week: Thursday

 

Read: Matthew 26:20-35

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, He said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays Him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” Judas, the one who would betray Him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” 

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

 

Reflect

Re-read verses 26-28.  Read it again but this time read slower. 

 

Observe

The Passover feast was a time to remind the Israelites how God had liberated them from slavery in Egypt. (Read Exodus 11 and 12 for context).

Jesus led the disciples in the annual Passover celebration of God’s promised freedom. He offered a new direction of thought which, for those who followed Him and came to believe in Him, took Passover in a new direction which has continued to this day. Instead of just remembering how God liberated the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, now we also remember Jesus and how He has liberated us from the bondage of sin.

As they took the meal Jesus made clear that the Passover lamb is no longer going to be an actual lamb, but Jesus Himself will be the last lamb that was slain. By Jesus saying this, He’s saying that He is in fact the Savior of humanity. 

Notice Jesus says, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people.” A covenant is a relationship between two people; however, the covenant Jesus is talking about is a relationship between God and humanity. Essentially Jesus is saying, because of my life and my death, a new relationship is possible between you and God. 

When we take communion now, we remember that Jesus is the one who has liberated us from sin and death. His body was broken to save us, and His blood was shed so that we can be in relationship with God. 

 

 

Pray

Thank God for His redemption and His plan to relate with us. God wants to be in relationship with you, every day. Thank God for Him being relational. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to continue to keep your eyes fixed on God and His kingdom.

 
Posted on April 13, 2017 .

Holy Week: Wednesday

 

There is no record in the Gospels of what happened on this day so it is sometimes referred to as The Day of Silence. However, there was surely much activity as Jesus and His disciples prepared for the Last Supper and as Judas and the Sanhedrin prepared for Jesus’ arrest.

Reflect

What are some of your favorite family traditions? How do you prepare for major holidays? Does it add meaning to the celebration for you to prepare in advance?

Pray

Ask God to prepare your heart for the upcoming weekend, that it will be more meaningful to you than ever before.

 
Posted on April 12, 2017 .

SPEAK...And Suffer

April 10, 2017

 

 

Join us as we continue through the book of Mark and we talk about suffering. Dr. Mark Scott, one of our Teaching Team Ministers, asks, "Just what is the point of suffering and what are we willing to suffer for?"

Watch here.

Sometimes your suffering has a sermon in it.
— Dr. Mark Scott

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the topic of the sermon:

Pray: What is obviously missing from the way that the Sanhedrin's meeting to "try"Jesus started (Mark 14:55-55) Answer: No prayer. No willingness to seek what God wanted in the situation. Guilty? Resolve to pray before important meetings in so far as possible.


Speak: Jesus speaks twice in our text today (48-49; 62). He speaks words of peace to those who arrested him and words of identity to those who tried him. Do your words speak of peace? Do your words reveal Christ's identity?


Grow: Growth is not automatic and doesn't take place overnight. The spiritual streaker who left the garden scene was likely none other than John Mark who wrote the Gospel (51). The apostle who warmed himself by the fire caved in to fear (54). Thank God for chances to grow after failure.


Love: Sometimes religious people don't act very religious. In Mark 14:35 the religious elite mistreated the Son of God. How could this kangaroo court be reversed by just more loving?

 

 
Posted on April 11, 2017 .

Holy Week: Tuesday

 

Context of the Parable

The next morning Jesus goes to the Temple and begins to share a few stories with those who are there. He’s bothered by what He had seen yesterday at the temple and wants to get to the heart of the religious elite. He does this by sharing stories. This is one of those stories:

 

Read: Matthew 21:28b-32

A man with two sons told the older boy, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.”  The son answered, “No, I won’t go,” but later he changed his mind and went anyway.  Then the father told the other son, “You go,” and he said, “Yes, sir, I will.” But he didn’t go.

“Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” 

Then Jesus explained His meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.  For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”

 

Reflect

Upon reading the story Jesus told and reading through the observation, what comes to mind? Do you relate to this story? If so, how? Take time to reflect on this parable and allow God to speak to you.

 

 

Observe

What is Jesus getting at here? This story is about integrity, and Jesus is addressing the religious elite. Jesus had witnessed, the day before at the temple, they have lost their integrity, they have lost their way. They look great and are well spoken, but talk is cheap. What matters is actually living what they know and yet they won’t do it. 

Jesus is exhorting them to actually do the will of the Father from the heart (Matt. 7:15-27). We know what people believe based on how they live their life, not by what they may claim to believe. And Jesus is trying to make that clear with the religious elite who are professing righteousness, yet there is no fruit, there is nothing, just empty words because they are not repenting and they don’t actually believe in God. They believe in their own self-righteousness.  

 

Pray

Ask God to give you the ability and the strength to live out your faith in your daily life.

 
Posted on April 11, 2017 .

Holy Week: Monday

 

Read: Matthew 21:12-16

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them.  The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David!” But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.” Then He returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.

 

Reflect

Re-read the passage, what sticks out to you? Why? 

 

Observe

After Jesus’ triumphant entry we see He makes it all the way to the temple. Knowing very well that He’s about to run into authorities that have been wanting to kill Him …He doesn’t hold back from letting the public know that what they are doing is not okay.  

Since it was Passover that area of the temple would be extremely crowded, imagine main street at Disneyland… that kind of crowded. 

So Jesus is amongst the crowd at the temple, He sees what’s going on and He then quotes part of Isaiah 56:7 in which Isaiah says that God’s house was a house of prayer for all people. However, Jesus is standing in the “Court of the Gentiles” which was the only part of the Temple into which the Gentiles could go. This was not God’s intent for people to be segregated in different sections of the temple, this place was for anyone who wanted to encounter God’s presence. 

He then quotes Jeremiah 7:11, which says, “you have turned the temple into a den of thieves.” There were those in the temple who were exploiting other people for profit. Money laundering, selling doves, they were taking advantage of people, in the name of God, for profit. 

Jesus makes it clear that this is not okay. 

But even in Jesus judgment of those who are doing wrong, the blind and the lame come to Him and He heals them. Jesus is our judge but He’s also our healer and comforter. 

 

Pray

Pray that God will show you any areas in which you are tempted to look at Jesus or Christianity as a means to serve your own selfish desires. Ask God to give you the Christ-like heart of a servant.

 
Posted on April 10, 2017 .

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

 

Read: Matthew 21:1-11

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.  “Go into the village over there,” He said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Him and threw their garments over the colt, and He sat on it.

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”  The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as He entered. “Who is this?” they asked.  And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

Reflect

Put yourself into this scene as one of the crowd along the roadside. What are you doing? What do you see and hear? What emotions are you feeling? What are your expectations?

 

Observe

It’s Passover and Jerusalem is crowded with pilgrims coming from all over to celebrate. According to some consensus back then there would be an estimated 2,700,000 people in Jerusalem. This was the moment the Father chose Jesus to participate in the beginning of this Passion Week. A time where Jews from all over the world come to Jerusalem. A time where the most people would be able to see Jesus for who He really is. 

He shows people who He is by coming into the city riding on a donkey. This event had two meanings to the people back then. Zechariah predicted that the victorious and righteous king, the Messiah, will come riding on a donkey. 

When Jesus came riding in on a donkey, those watching knew Zechariah 9:9, they knew what Jesus was saying by doing that. Jesus purposed to show the people that He was, in fact, that which Zechariah had predicted all those years ago. Also, in the Ancient Near East, a king riding a donkey into a city meant that he come not conquer, but to come in peace. 

By riding in on a donkey He’s claiming to be the King of Peace. The One who will ultimately put everything back into order as it should be, the One who came not to destroy but to love, not to condemn but to help.  

 

Pray

Thank God for His peace that surpasses all understanding. Ask God to give you His peace today.

 
Posted on April 9, 2017 .