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 .

Holy Week Introduction

When an occurrence becomes repetitive in our life we are often desensitized to its reality.

Remember when your shoes were brand new? You kept looking down at them, all nice and clean, but somewhere down the line, they lost their luster. Over time your shoes became part of the routine of your daily, repetitive life.

Easter is our annual spring holiday, and for the most part, we gather with family and friends. We go to church, dressed in festive fashion, and hear about Jesus rising from the grave for the salvation of mankind. We are moved to some degree by the worship and the message, we then go on our way to whatever family function we have planned.

Yet, in the midst of our traditions, in the midst of our repetitive lifestyle, there is a reality that’s more than just words on a page. The reality is…

Jesus really did live.

Jesus really did suffer.

Jesus really did die.

Jesus rose from the grave.

Jesus is alive.

And our response to this reality has real implications.

This daily devotional this week is designed to take us along Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and the events that took place all the way up to His death and resurrection. Tomorrow we will look at the events of Palm Sunday.

 

History of Holy Week

In the first century, the early Christians celebrated every Sunday in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. By the second century, they established a particular day for the celebration of the resurrection, which was connected to the Jewish Passover. Their observance began at sundown on Saturday evening. They called it the Night of the Great Vigil, a time of remembrance and expectation that lasted throughout the night so they could sing “Alleluia” at dawn on Easter morning. 

By the fourth century, it became customary for people to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate what was called the “Great Week,” which included Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. 

Over time, the practice of observing Holy Week spread throughout the Christian world, with prayers, historical re-enactments, and special liturgies. During the Middle Ages, the celebration of the Easter Vigil gradually fell out of practice. The important days of the week were Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

 

Holy Week FAQs

Who decides the date of Easter?

In 325, the Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. It can occur as early as April 22 or as late as April 25.

Why use the word “Passion” to describe the suffering of Jesus?

The word “Passion” comes from the Latin word for suffering. When referring to the events leading up to the death of Jesus, we capitalize the word Passion to differentiate from the modern meaning of the word with its romantic overtones.

Why do we call it “Good Friday?”

There’s not a clear answer for this. Some think “Good Friday” probably evolved from “God’s Friday” in the same way that “Good-bye” evolved from “God be with you.” The word “good” is sometimes used in the Bible in the sense of “holy.” So the term Good Friday might be derived from some olden expression such as Holy Friday. Or it could be because what appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph -- because by Jesus’ death on the cross He purchased our salvation. 

 

Holy Week Customs

palm-cross-2.jpg

Palm crosses: These are made to commemorate the palm branches laid down before Jesus as He entered jerusalem.The easiest way to make a cross from palms is to cut two pieces of the palm, arrange in the shape of a cross, put a thumbtack in the middle, and attach the cross to a doorway or a bulletin board. 

Housecleaning: In many cultures the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week are designated as days for vigorous housecleaning in preparation for Easter. This custom probably evolved from the Jewish custom of ritual cleaning before Passover.

Coloring eggs: Decorating eggs was a symbol of rebirth at springtime for the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians and the Chinese. Christians adopted the colored egg as a symbol of new life which comes with the Resurrection.

Sweet breads: In many cultures, Holy Week was traditionally a time for baking sweet breads, cakes and pastries that would be served on Easter Sunday.

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New clothes: From the time of the early Christians, the newly baptized wore white garments made from new linen. In medieval times, it became a tradition for people to wear new clothes on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the “new life” that comes with the Resurrection. 

Easter lilies: The tradition of buying Easter lilies during Holy Week for use as decorations in homes and churches came into practice in the 1800s. The white flower is a symbol of purity and new life that heralds the resurrection of Jesus.

ocsv.com/Portals/4/documents/pdf/HolyWeek.pdf

 

What are your favorite Easter traditions?

 

Posted on April 8, 2017 .

SPEAK...And Pray

April 4, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister, helps us understand how to fight the battle between the willingness of the spirt and the weakness of the flesh.


Satan wants nothing more than for you to think you are alone in the struggle against sin.

THE QUESTIONS

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

Pray: Why do you think prayer is so central to overcoming the tension between what we naturally want (the flesh) versus what we ultimately value (the Spirit)?

Speak: Jesus was intentional about praying in community. Who can you walk this journey with, of growing in your prayer life by praying with others, in community? 

Grow: There were a number of different practical tools that Sy talked about that could help us grow in our prayer life. Which one are you going to try and implement for the next 21 days (remember it takes at least 21 days to create a habit)? 

Love: Who do you know that needs to learn how to fight this tension between what you naturally want (the flesh) versus what you ultimately value (the Spirit)? How can you come alongside of them in love and point them to a loving Father that knows what they ultimately need?

Sy mentioned the Daily Examen in his sermon. Here are the five steps to help you pray.

Sy mentioned the Daily Examen in his sermon. Here are the five steps to help you pray.

 
Posted on April 6, 2017 .

SPEAK...And Praise

March 27, 2017

 

THE SERMON

Sy Huffer, Lead Minister, walks us through Mark 11 and discusses the importance of praise in our prayers and speech.

Are you forcing Jesus into a box of the person you want him to be?
Or are you allowing him to be who he is in the Gospels?

THE QUESTIONS

Use these questions to further explore the topic of Sunday's message:

QUESTION 1: Pray

Ask the Lord in prayers to examine your heart in your approach to worship. Ask him, "Am I worshipping you in your image, because of who you are, or am I worshipping you in my preference, the style of music?

QUESTION 2: SPEAK

How do you allow your worship to speak about the identity of Jesus? Does the way you approach worship point people to a Jesus that loves all peoples, ethnic groups, generations, and languages?

QUESTION 3: Grow

What steps can you take to grow in your view of worship? What does it look like to worship Jesus in his image, not in your preference? 

QUESTION 4: Love

Who worships differently than you that you can sacrifice your preference in order to dwell in diverse unity as the body of Christ?

Click here to get the scoop on Easter Weekend!  

Click here to get the scoop on Easter Weekend!

 

 
Posted on March 29, 2017 .

SPEAK! With Transformed Eyes

March 21, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

In the next part of our series Sy Huffer, our Lead Minister, continues through the book of Mark as we learn just what it means to transform how we look at the world around us, and how Jesus changes the way look at the world.

What will people read in your life?

What will people read in your life?

 

THE QUESTIONS

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

QUESTION 1: Pray

How can prayer help you see Jesus clearly? What assumptions about your prayer life come from a faulty way of how you have seen Jesus? Ask the Lord to transform your eyes to see Jesus clearly. 

QUESTION 2: Speak

Sy said, "When we see Jesus with clarity, we speak Jesus with clarity." Do you agree with this or not? Why or Why not? How can having a transformed view of Jesus impact how you speak to others about him? 

QUESTION 3: Grow

What are you currently struggling with in your view of Jesus that you need to grow in? Are there any ways that you are currently seeing Jesus that are proving to be false? Where did that view come from? 

QUESTION 4: Love

Sy said, "To be great in God's kingdom is to serve." How can you "be great" according to the kingdom of God? Have your eyes been transformed in the way that you see greatness?

 

THE NEW SONG

 

Here's a song by Vertical Church that is new to College Heights. We sang it this past Sunday and we'll surely sing it more in the future!

 

 
Posted on March 21, 2017 .

SPEAK! With A Transformed Life

March 14, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Dr. Mark Scott, one of our Teaching Team, leads us through the next message of our "Speak" series discussing how the Gospel speaks through a transformed life.

Speak your life because what has happened to you is not as big as what has happened for you.
— Dr. Mark Scott

THE QUESTIONS

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

  • Where should we speak about our transformed life?  Near and far (Mark 5:19-20).  To family—are they easy or hard to witness to?  To people in the wider geographical area—where is your Decapolis?
  • What should we speak?  Mercy (Mark 5:19).  This is a term of redemption.  If we are overwhelmed by mercy shouldn’t it show?
  • How should we speak?  Verbally—tell (Mark 5:19) and proclaim (Mark 5:20).
  • Why should we speak?  To make Jesus famous in our region (Mark 7:31-37).
  • Who should speak?  Us—people who have been transformed (Mark 5:15).
  • When should we speak?  How about right now?  Read 2 Corinthians 6:2.
When I am overwhelmed by the mercy of God and what he has done for me it is natural to speak about what He has done.
— Dr. Mark Scott
 
Posted on March 14, 2017 .

SPEAK...With A Transformed Heart

March 7, 2017

 

THE SERMON

What does it mean to transform your heart? Watch the next part of our Speak series as Sy Huffer, Lead Minister, walks us through Mark chapter 7 as we learn together what it means to speak with a transformed heart.

When you keep the letter of the law without the spirit of the law, you miss the Person behind the law. When you keep the letter of the law, with the spirit of the law, you reveal the Person behind the law AND you become like the Person behind the law.

Upcoming Events

Father/Daughter Ball
Saturday, 6:30 - 9:00 PM, April 1. Fathers can enjoy time with their daughters during this special evening reinforcing how very precious each young lady is in the eyes of both her father as well as her Heavenly Father. Join us for an evening of good food, dancing and inspiration. Grades 6 & up. $30 per couple ($10 each additional daughter). Tickets available at the Sign Up Counter in the Atrium. For more information: smurdock@chjoplin.org or 417-624-6915x181

 

Mom/Son LEGO Challenge
5:30 - 7:30 PM, March 18 in the Atrium, Grades 1-8. Cost is $5 per person. The challenge is not only to build an extraordinary LEGO creation but to challenge each young man to become the man of God he has been called to be. Join us for food, fun and innovation. Tickets available at the Sign Up Counter in the Atrium.

 
Posted on March 7, 2017 .

SPEAK! With Compassion

February 28, 2017

 

THE SERMON

 

Lead Minister Sy Huffer walks us through Mark chapter six and talks about how we can speak with compassion.

Speak with compassion by doing what you can and provide space for God to make up the difference.
— Sy Huffer

THE QUESTIONS

Use these to further explore the topic of the sermon:

QUESTION: Pray

Has God broken your heart for the needs of the masses? What does it look like for you to pray for the harassed and helpless in our world? How can you make yourself aware of the needs in our world that breaks God's heart?

QUESTION: Speak

We saw in the story about Jesus feeding the five thousand that a major way that Jesus cares for and speaks to the masses is teaching them. How can you leverage our weekly Sunday morning church service in order to show compassion to the masses? What does it look like for you to invite people you know to church? Who do you know that you can invite?

QUESTION: Grow

Jesus pursued boundaries. What do your boundaries look like? When non-Christians see you living out the faith, do they desire the life you live or are they overwhelmed by how busy you are?

‪If you are so busy with church that you are unable to be the best husband/wife you can be, the best parent to your children, and a friend to lost people around you, then QUIT SOMETHING.‬
— Sy Huffer

QUESTION: Love 

What needs in our world break your heart? How is God leading you to show compassion and extravagant love to the masses or maybe simply to one person?

Do for the one what you want to do for the many.
— Mother Teresa
 
Posted on March 1, 2017 .

SPEAK! With Courage

 

THE SERMON

Our Lead Minister Sy Huffer takes us through Mark 5 and explores what it means to speak courage.

THE QUESTIONS

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

QUESTION: Pray

Do you believe Jesus? Not in him, but believe what he says? How can your prayer life lead you to greater trust and dependence on what Jesus says, promises and commands?

QUESTION: Speak

How can you speak with urgency (Jairus), to the outcasts (bleeding woman), and to the few (Jesus)?

QUESTION: Grow

What does it look like to speak to a few disciples on a regular basis? How can you focus on multiplication rather than addition? Who are you training to speak, not just who are you speaking to? Use Model, Assist, Watch and Leave as a format to train others to Speak.

QUESTION: Love

Who are the outcasts of our society? How can you engage those who are hurting and helpless, who the world has turned their back on? How can you love the unlovable?

COMING UP

Have coffee on us! Next Steps Coffee is a casual gathering for you to find out how you can take the next step in your journey with God here at College Heights. You'll have an opportunity to hear about who we are, what we do, and ask us questions. Come grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat during the 9:15 AM service in the Prayer Room in the northwest corner of the Atrium.

 
Posted on February 22, 2017 .