Sermon Recap

Sermon Recap (11/27) "Jude: Week One"

Have you ever poured salt on your food, just to discover your food tasting slightly sweeter? Or poured sugar in your coffee and ended up with a not-so-sweet flavor? Salt and sugar look almost identical, but they taste totally different. Sometimes, something that seems familiar can be surprisingly deceptive.

This happened in Jude's time as men were distorting the Gospel. They were straying from orthodoxy, which is the validated doctrinal stance that's consistent with the history of the church. Today, we're going to read and study verses 1-4 of Jude.

WHO IS JUDE?

Right at the beginning of Jude, we learn who Jude was. He describes himself in to ways in verse 1:

  • "A bondservant of Christ"
  • "Brother of James"

The word "bondservant" is "doulos" in the original Greek. A doulos is a servant who willingly commits to their master. Unlike the traditional idea of a slave, Jude is describing himself as willingly surrendered to Jesus as a servant. And this is what our lives should look like too. We should be proud to be bondservants of Christ.

"The highest honor of the greatest apostles, and most eminent ministers, is to be the servants of Christ; not the masters of the churches, but the servants of Christ." -Matthew Henry

Jude's second description of himself was "Brother of James." Now, if you know anything about the Bible, you know that James was the son of Mary and Joseph. Coincidentally, Mary was also Jesus' mother, and James and Jude were his half-brothers. If Jude had a brother like Jesus, why wasn't he dropping names to earn "street cred"? Well, Jude knew there were no ins with Jesus. Nothing makes us more likely to be loved by him. In humility, he acknowledged himself as James' brother, and left it at that.

TO WHOM IS THIS WRITTEN?

Continuing in verse 1, Jude tells us he's writing to:

  1. Those who are called
    • It's important to not mistake this for calling on God. God calls us. He chooses us, and we respond. It's His calling, not our calling.
  2. Those who are sanctified by God
    • The word "sanctified" can also be described as set apart and beloved. We are loved by God.
  3. Those who are preserved in Jesus Christ
    • "Preserved" is a passive verb, meaning we are kept by God. There's nothing we can do to be kept. We just are kept. Isn't that incredible?

WHAT'S THE MESSAGE?

In verse 3, Jude tells us why he's writing. He wanted to write about their shared salvation and focus on wonderful, joyous things, but he felt compelled to instead exhort the church to contend for the Gospel.

Moving on to verse 4, we learn that there are people amongst those in the church who are ungodly and who distort the Gospel. These false teachers tell us that salvation comes from Jesus plus something else.

SO WHAT?

Today, in 2016, this is still happening. There are people changing the Gospel to work nicely for them. And instead of learning doctrine and standing up for Biblical truth, we tend to "agree to disagree." We fight for what's important in life, and what's more important than the truth of the Gospel?

Just as boxers train and prepare in every way they can for a big fight, Jude urges the church to prepare in every way we can for battle. This means learning scripture and knowing doctrine, so that when you're confronted with a false teacher, you'll know truth. 

But it's important to know that contending for the Gospel is not the same as fighting against someone else. Our goal as Christians is not to fight with others and tell them they're wrong, but to stand up for what is true. Let's not be known for what we're against.


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Sermon Recap (11/13) "Proverbial Fool: Wise"

Imagine someone who is wise. What do you see? It might be an older person with white hair. It could be someone you know who has great advice. Maybe you’re just imagining Yoda! Either way, the wisest people in our lives are usually the ones who have little to say, but when they do speak, they always share nuggets of wisdom. But what does wisdom actually look like?

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” -Plato

Throughout this series as we’ve looked at fools in Proverbs, our entire purpose has been to learn to apply the fear of the Lord to understand wisdom. So, this week, we’re talking about wisdom.

WEEK FOUR: WISDOM

The wisest people use words to build others up, not to tear them down. They keep promises, are faithful and trustworthy. They’re honest. They’re people who think before they speak. Being wise doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything though. While knowledge is the acquisition of information, wisdom is the application of knowledge. Wisdom is taking what we’ve learned and applying it to our lives.

Let’s head back to Proverbs 1:7, where we learned, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Based on this verse, fearing the Lord is the key to attaining wisdom, but the problem is our society doesn’t fear the Lord anymore. People are living life for themselves and they don’t really care what God thinks anymore. They’ve adopted man’s wisdom instead of God’s wisdom.

MAN’S WISDOM VS. GOD’S WISDOM

In the Bible, these types of wisdom are also known as “wisdom from below” and “wisdom from above.” Check out the chart to the right to see the differences between these types of wisdom.

Do you see a theme in this table on the “From Below” column? The same thing happened last week when we talked about our words. When we have earthly wisdom, it’s all about us. We’re our own authority, not God. Our lives are founded on us, and not on Who created us. Our motivation is to fulfill ourselves instead of pleasing the Lord. And the result is strife, bitterness, and envy, rather than the peace that God has for us.

James 3:16-17 gives an even more clear picture of these two types of wisdom: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, fill of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

WALKING IN GOD’S WISDOM

Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Your community says a lot about you, and your community truly impacts your life. We have got to be in community with one another so we can encourage each other and grow in Godly wisdom together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 - “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the matter of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

THE SOLUTION

Understand that man’s wisdom is foolishness

We have an obligation to fight against the world’s wisdom and to live in God’s wisdom. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 tells us that God makes the wisdom of this world look foolish. Compared to His wisdom, it is a joke. 

Know what true wisdom is

Continuing in 1 Corinthians 1:24-25, we learn that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. The wisdom of God can be accessed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Seek wisdom

In Proverbs 8:12, 17 it says, “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion… I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” Seek wisdom diligently. Pray for it. Ask God to give you His wisdom and to help you turn from the wisdom this world has to offer, because it will bring nothing but destruction. 


Sermon Recap (11/6) "Proverbial Fool: Scoffer"

Growing up, you probably heard the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." In fact, you may have even said this yourself. But the truth is, that phrase is totally wrong. I would venture to say that every person can remember at least one moment in life when someone has said something to us that remains with us today. Maybe a parent told you that you could lose a few pounds. Or a classmate said you're annoying. Maybe a boss criticized your work in front of a group of colleagues. Whatever it is for you, it proves that age-old phrase to be false. 

Words have the power to destroy or restore life. Words are powerful.

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the proud fool - scoffer.

WEEK 4: THE PROUD FOOL

In Proverbs 13, Solomon introduces us to the scoffer. He says the scoffer doesn't listen to rebuke, his soul feeds on violence, and his lips shall have destruction. In just three verses, Solomon proves to us that words can hurt us. 

"You have never spoken a neutral word in your life. Either your talk brings life or brings death." -Paul Tripp

In Proverbs 4:24, he instructs, "Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you." We are directed in this book to stop speaking words that tear people down. Instead, to get as far away from becoming a scoffer. But how do we do that?

Luke 6:43-45 says, "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure in his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." In other words, trying to stop speaking hurtfully or saying bad words is like buying a bag of apples and taping them on a rotten tree. The state of our hearts are revealed in our words. In order to fix the problem - to produce good fruit - we  need to figure out the root issue. 

STORY OF A SCOFFER

A scoffer can also be described as a mocker, scorner, and babbler. They're the fools who ridicule people constantly. In the Bible, a great example of a scoffer is Nabal. In first Samuel 25, we learn that Nabal (the Greek word for fool) is a man who had material riches, but had no riches in character. He was a fool and a scoffer. Somehow, he was lucky enough to be married to Abigail (meaning a father's joy), who was kind-hearted and beautiful. 

As the story goes, David sent his men to talk to Nabal with kindness, offering peace. Nadal, as a scoffer does, rebuked them and offended David's name. When David heard about Nabal's response, he decided to send his men to fight. 

When David encountered a scoffer, he had to decide how to react. Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us two options:

  • Verse 4: Don't respond to a fool, or you'll be like him.
  • Verse 5: Respond to a fool, or he'll think he's wise.

These seem like such contrasting statements, but they actually aren't contrasting. They're simply giving us a choice. This is where the Lord comes in, because we have to rely on Him for guidance. The response really changes based on the situation.

FRUIT VS. ROOT

Take a look at this list to see the fruit that scoffers produce, and the root behind that behavior:

  • Arrogant | Self-Competence
  • Cusser | Self-Satisfaction
  • Liar | Self-Preservation
  • Talker | Self-Deception
  • Joker | Self-Glory
  • Flatterer | Self-Adultion
  • Gossiper | Self-Comparison
  • Complainer | Self-Exhaltation 

Do you notice a theme? Self, self, self self, self. Scoffers are all about themselves. The bad fruit that's produced is a result of idolizing self and making ourselves the most important thing.

THE REMEDY

Jesus, of course!

2 Corinthians 5:15: "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."

We have to die to self in order to avoid becoming this proverbial fool. Once Jesus takes over in our hearts, our words will flow from a place of life, rather than death. Words have the power to bring life or death, so let's make an effort for our words to be words of encouragement and life. 


Sermon Recap (10/30) "Proverbial Fool: Adulterous

Have you ever watched a video of a a predator attacking its prey? Can you imagine a lion quietly waiting to pounce? Or a crocodile stealthily lurking before attacking its victim? Keep that picture in your mind!

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the adulterous fool - sensual

WEEK 3: THE ADULTEROUS FOOL

God created sex intentionally and with purpose to be shared in the specific context of Biblical marriage. In our world today, temptation to fall into this trap is everywhere. Solomon uses Proverbs chapters 5, 6, and 7 to warn us against becoming the adulterous fool. 

STORY

In Proverbs 7, Solomon walks us through and anecdotal example to help us understand why it's so important to avoid becoming this fool. He tells us he witnessed this fool in action. A man with no sense, walking toward the house of an adulteress at nighttime. He tells us she has a crafty heart and lurks, lying in ambush. She's a predator - it's exactly the same as a lion in hiding, waiting for the perfect time to attack. As he walks into the darkness, toward the temptation, she comes out at the perfect moment, catches him, and seduces him. She promises a reward, but delivers death. 

In verse 25, he says, "Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths." It starts in our hearts, and we slowly start walking down her street, toward her door, and end up in a place we never initially planned to be.  

"Temptation always includes hopeful promises; Otherwise, people would never take the Devil's bait." -Warren Wiersbe

SUFFERING

Beginning in Proverbs 6:20, Solomon continues the warning against adultery. In verse 22, he instructs is to bind our father's command upon our heart so that when we are in the midst of temptation, the truth can keep us away. If we don't, he warns us of suffering. 

The adulterous fool lusts in his heart (v. 25), he shall not be innocent (v. 29), he lacks understanding (v. 32a), and he destroys his own soul (v. 32b). This fool commits sin against his own body.

In today's world, people don't want to believe this. They glorify adultery or adulterous behavior in music, on tv, in movies, on the news, and basically on any platform we can find online. Instead of calling it what it is, we've switched vernacular to make it seem like less of an issue. It could be an affair, sleeping around, a fling, or cheating, but it is just as serious. 

SAFEGUARDS

The predator lies in waiting, using every means necessary to seduce us into becoming this fool. Whether it's the people we see, the content we read or watch, a negative emotion about our spouse, or even a song on the radio, there will be factors trying to lure is into the darkness like we read in chapter 7. So how do we safe guard against these predators?

Proverbs 5:1-6
First, we have to understand that the adulterous woman is meant to appear pleasurable, but will in fact lead to destruction.

Proverbs 5:7-9
Then, we have to keep far away from her. Unlike the man in chapter 7, we should not be walking down her street. Once we know where she is and how she attempts to lure us, we should turn and get as far away from her as possible. 

Proverbs 5:15-19
Be intoxicated by your spouse. In the context of Biblical marriage, as it was intended to be, sex is an absolutely beautiful gift from God. Rather than being distracted and constantly seeking more from pornography or people outside of your marriage, heed Solomon's advice to rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Safeguard your heart from becoming the fool. Study scripture, pray against the predator lying in wait, take steps to walk away from the dark path, and rejoice and invest into your marriage.


Sermon Recap (10/23) "Proverbial Fool: Lazy"

Everything in our society points us toward believing work is evil. We dread Mondays, find hope in Wednesdays (#HumpDay) and live for Fridays (#TGIF!). For some reason, we're stuck in this pattern of believing work is a bad thing.

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the lazy fool - the sluggard.

WEEK 2: THE LAZY FOOL

In Proverbs 6:6-11, Solomon says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep-So shall poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man."

Clearly, Solomon thought there was something wrong with being a sluggard. He instructs us to use ants as an example for how we should live. Ants do their work efficiently, without instruction, without anyone to praise them for their good work. Yet many people fall into the trap of becoming a lazy fool. They are idle, and they don't accomplish much at all, if anything.

To add to laziness, the sluggard is full of excuses for his unwillingness to work (Proverbs 26:13-16), he has the resources, but refuses to use them (Proverbs 20:4) and stewards his resources poorly (Proverbs 24:30-31). He has fields, he has opportunity, he has time, he has physical ability, but the sluggard doesn't use these gifts wisely.

Can you think of areas in your family or your job where you just do the bare minimum to get by, but don't truly put as much effort in as you should? Do you push the snooze button too many times in the morning? Do you go to work just for the paycheck, but not to make any real difference? Do you have the time, money, or energy to do more, and choose not to use them wisely? Maybe God has even been convicting you of laziness in your life lately!

A NEW OUTLOOK ON WORK

As we said earlier, we have pretty much been trained to believe that we shouldn't enjoy work. At some point, we starting thinking that work was a result of the fall - that it's not a good thing and that it's some sort of punishment for our sinfulness. This is just not true.

In Genesis 2:15, 19-20, before the fall ever happened, God gave Adam work! God intended for us to use our hands. We were meant to work and to not be sluggards. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, the Thessalonian church is instructed to work with their hands. Idle hands leave room for temptation and disruption. 

"Laziness could run a competitive race for the most underrated sin. Quietly it anesthetizes its victims into a lifeless stupor that ends in hunger, bondage, and death." -Ronald Sailler and David Wyrtzen

APPLICATION

The whole point of this series is to learn how to walk in wisdom by applying the fear of the Lord. In order to avoid becoming the sluggard, we should examine the heart behind everything we do. 

Do everything for God's glory
Colossians 3:22-24 - "Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."

Sometimes, we get in the habit of only doing our best so others will notice us. It could be for a promotion or a raise, or even just to get a pat on the back. But everything we do should be to bring God glory and it should be done out of reverence for him.

Reflect God through your work
Titus 2:9-10 - "Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things."

By working hard, you can actually show Jesus in the workplace. Isn't that so cool? 

Redeem your time
Ephesians 5:14-17 - "Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

This passage in Ephesians is a great reminder that these days are evil. They are working against us, and we should spend every moment redeeming the time, bringing God glory, and walking in His will.


Sermon Recap (10/16) "Proverbial Fool: Simple"

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Do you ever know better, but still choose to do something that isn't wise? It could be eating too much ice cream, speaking to your spouse in an less-than-loving way, or shopping even though your bank account is begging you not to. Can you think of some examples in your own life?

There's a term for knowing better but still doing something anyway: foolishness

In this series, we're taking a look at the book of Proverbs. This 31-chapter book of the Bible is dedicated to helping us avoid foolishness by applying wisdom to our lives. As we study the teachings of King Solomon, we're going to learn how to walk in wisdom.

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

In Proverbs 1:1-8, we learn that these words of wisdom were written by Solomon, son of David. He also happened to be the king of Israel. He was one of the wisest men in history! He wrote most of Proverbs, and it's believed that Solomon actually composed thousands of proverbs over his life time. 

Proverbs in the Bible offer Godly wisdom, and Proverbs 1:2-6 tells us why they were written:

  1. To know (wisdom and understanding)
  2. To perceive (the words of understanding)
  3. To receive (the instruction of wisdom)
  4. To give (prudence to the simple)
  5. To understand (a proverb and an enigma)

The book of Proverbs teaches you how to live skilfully in every area of your life, including family, finances, friendships, speech, and work. The goal of wisdom is that you might achieve a life of beauty and significance so that at the end of your days you will have accomplished something worthwhile and lasting. Jesus is the one who exemplifies wisdom, as he lived on earth with perfect skill. It is through Christ that we are made wise and gain the ability to live wisely.

Over the next five weeks, we're going to look at 5 "fools" we find in the book of Proverbs, and learn how to avoid their foolishness. This week is the simple fool: stupid.

WEEK 1: THE SIMPLE FOOL

Stupid seems like a pretty harsh word to use in church, but this is how the Bible describes the simple fool:

  • Proverbs 12:1 - Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.
  • Proverbs 30:2-3 - Surely I am more stupid than any man, And I do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom Nor have knowledge of the Holy One.
  • Psalm 73:22 - I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.

Someone who is stupid is senseless, brutish, animal-like, lacking understanding, driven by their instincts, and lives from a worldly perspective. Proverbs 1:5 says a wise man hears and increases learning. The simple fool may hear wisdom, but he doesn't heed wisdom. Rather than living out the words he's heard, he continues along in his simple way, hearing the voice of wisdom and choosing not to listen.

Practically, in our lives, this fool could look like knowing what your spouse needs relationally, and choosing not to do it. It could look like not budgeting and spending your money wildly, knowing that's not the best decision. It could be not spending time leading your family spiritually. So, let's talk about practical steps to avoid being "The Simple Fool." 
 

APPLICATION

Hear the Word, then heed the Word
Solomon, though he was one of the wisest men in the world, fell short because he knew these clever, memorable words of wisdom, but he didn't live them out.

As Jon Courson put it, "Even though (Solomon) was an exceedingly wise individual, he ended up playing the fool, for he would forsake his own wisdom in an attempt to find satisfaction in partying, material possessions, women, and intellectualism-only to conclude it was all empty."

James 1:22-25 says, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James continues in chapter 4, verse 17, "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Seek wisdom, seek Jesus!
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 tells us that wisdom of this world is made foolish by God. Jesus is the power and the wisdom of God, and by having a relationship with him we can live out Godly wisdom. We don't have to stay simple!

Read Proverbs 2:1-5! If we do seek Godly wisdom and understanding, we will find the knowledge of God.

Challenge: Seek with us! There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, which equates to 1 for each day of the month. As a church, we're going to read the Proverb for whatever day of the month it is. Today is October 18, so we'll read Proverb 18. Will you read Proverbs with us this month?


Sermon Recap JONAH 4 (5/15/16)

Jonah has experienced quite a bit of God's sovereignty at this point. He ran to Tarshish to escape God's presence, he tried to sleep through the storm while at sea, was swallowed by a fish, survived, was welcomed by his enemies, and preached the good news of God's grace to 120,000 people, they believed, and were saved! Yet,

Jonah was angry.

He was angry that God had mercy on the people of Nineveh. They were spared of God's wrath and destruction, but Jonah was only preoccupied about how he was so angry that he wished to die! To Jonah, seeing his enemies receive God's grace was worse than death. His prayer in verses 2-3 is just a long list of complaints, but at least it's an honest prayer. Jonah shows his true colors in chapter 4. He breaks down, and reflects what we all have a tendency to do ourselves.

SINFUL HEART

    Jonah is being selfish. In verses 2-3 he refers to himself 9 times. He's angry that his prediction didn't come true. He is angry that his enemies are being treated the same way he is. He cares about his own reputation, and has no concern for the people of Nineveh. This prayer lays it all out on the table. Jonah is angry, and it's all God's fault in his eyes. Through the honesty of this prayer, Jonah shows the sinful nature we all have.

     

    WE SHOULD LONG TO SEE OTHERS RECEIVE GRACE

    In verse 4 God asks,

    “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

    Jonah didn't reply, but the answer is no. He was sent out of his own land and his prediction was wrong; his enemies won't be receiving judgment. He felt betrayed, and angry at God. What's wrong with this picture? Jonah is completely missing the point of all this. The city of Nineveh was saved from the wrath of God, and Jonah isn't the least bit happy for them. So though Jonah disobeyed the Lord by fleeing to Tarshish, he received God's grace with a second chance to preach the message he was given. In the same way, the people of Nineveh were given a second chance, but Jonah doesn't see it this way. He is being a hypocrite. He wants grace for himself, and not for others. We do this in our own life as we have more tolerance for our own sins, but judge strongly against others who struggle with sins that we do not. We should be glad to see God show grace to others.

     

    WE SHOULD PUT NEED BEFORE COMFORT

    Jonah put his comforts before the needs of others. It's comfortable for Jonah to dislike to Assyrians, he should have realized the need of the people of Nineveh to be saved by Gods grace. It's more comfortable not to share the gospel. In the grocery store, the coffee shop, or even at work, it is easier to breeze over an opportunity to share Jesus with someone, than it is to step out. However, this world needs the gospel. Nineveh is in front of us, and we have been called to preach the message we have been given. Jesus died for our sins! This is big news! Someone felt that we were important enough to share the gospel with once, and it's our duty to do the same for others

       

      Jonah didn't see the big picture, but we can learn from his story. We can't let selfishness get in the way of sharing the gospel with others. There is a need for Jesus now. Right in front of us, people are lost and need the Lord. Let's step out. Let's be bold and share God's relentless grace together!

      Sermon Recap JONAH 3 (5/1/2016)

      Jonah was a prodigal prophet. God gave him a message to preach, and he ran away from his calling. He tried to flee from the presence of God, but God used Jonah's rebellion for his own purpose. He took someone like Jonah, a runner, and made him into a prophet that preached the good news of God's grace to a city of 500,000 living in sin.

       

      JONAH WAS GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE

      Jonah chapter 3 begins just like chapter 1.

      Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”

      Except this time, Jonah obeyed. Jonah was given a second chance to do what God had called him to do. God showed him mercy by not giving him what he deserved. He showed him grace by giving him a second chance. Jonah is the prodigal prophet. He ran from God initially, but after some time of rebellion he came back to God, who welcomed him with open arms. God is a giver of second chances(even third and one hundredth chances!)

       

      JONAH'S MESSAGE WAS TIED TO HIS TESTIMONY

      Jonah was instructed to tell the city of Nineveh a message. The city's name itself derives from the word ninus which means residence of Nimrod(city's founder) or nunu which is Akkadian(Semitic language spoken in Mesopotamia) for fish. Simply put, the city could actually just be called “fish town”. In a addition, the people of Nineveh worshiped the fish god and goddess, Dagon, and Nanshe.

      Fish were deeply rooted in the culture of the Ninevites. That is why they took great interest in Jonah's fish story.

      This is what God does. He calls a man, He changes the man's heart, He gives the man a story, and He gives the man a mission; the mission to tell his story.

       

      GOD WILL SHOW MERCY AND GRACE TO THE REPENTANT

      Something amazing happened in Nineveh after Jonah preached his message(of only five words in the Hebrew). The whole city of 500,000 repented, even their king. They all believed, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth(a sign of repentance). The city of 500,000 believed, and turned from their sins. The people who Jonah didn't want to preach to. The people who's land had been stained with the blood of their enemies. These were the people that some may have thought were too far gone for God's grace. These people received God's gift of relentless grace.

       

      God used Jonah's rebellion to gave him a story. His story helped him preach the message God gave him, and ultimately God was glorified when the city of Nineveh repented. God gave us all a story. He can use it to bring glory to himself, no matter what it is. God shows us grace through Jesus who took our sins. We are given a second chance. We are given relentless grace.  

      Sermon Recap(4/10) "Man Overboard"

      Jonah, a prophet of Israel was appointed by God to announce the His judgment on the people of Nineveh. Full of an idolatrous zeal for his country, and a prejudice against the Assyrian people, he fled from the Lord and boarded a ship to Tarshish. Though he tried his best, God's grace didn't let Jonah get too far.

      While on the ship to Tarshish, God sent a violent storm that about destroyed the ship. The captain himself had to wake Jonah up(he was sleeping at the bottom of the ship), and tell him to pray to his God to spare their lives. The sailors then cast lots to find which one of the men's gods caused the storm; they fell on Jonah. They asked what terrible thing he had done to deserve such a storm. In verse 9 he replies:

      I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

      This wasn't comforting to the sailors as Jonah already told them he had been fleeing the Lord. Jonah then tells them that to stop the storm, they must throw him overboard. But the sailors didn't want to kill him, so they rowed harder. Eventually they prayed that they wouldn't be held accountable for Jonah's death, and threw him into the sea. Immediately, the storm stopped and the Lord prepared a great fish(not a whale) to swallow Jonah.

      Jonah tried to ignore the storm

      While he was already on a path of destruction, Jonah continued to ignore the situation by sleeping in the bottom of the ship. He kept himself in isolation, where he was comfortable. While the other men were lightening the load of the ship and praying out to their pagan God's, Jonah was asleep. While the sailors had grace on Jonah, when they tried everything they could before throwing him off the ship, he would not show grace to the Assyrians.

      God sent the storm to direct Jonah back to Nineveh

      The storm wasn't sent to punish Jonah like the sailors believed, it was God's tool to move him off the path to Tarshish, and on the way to Nineveh. God uses storms in our lives as well. It could be the death of a loved one, losing a home, sudden change or a difficult situation. He uses these events to direct us onto the path of His will by correcting our behaviors, protecting us from something we may not even be aware of, or to help us learn to rely on Him.

      The sailors recognized God

      At first the sailors tried to take care of the storm themselves. They probably prepared the ship for inclement weather as always, but as the storm became worse, they began to shout out to their pagan gods in desperation. But when the sailors saw that the storm stopped immediately after Jonah was thrown overboard, they offered the Lord a sacrifice and vowed their lives to serve him. In this, they found faith in God! They saw his power and gained reverence for Him through the storm.

      Looking at the big picture, Jonah actually needed the storm to direct him. God sent it as a way to guide him in the right direction, not to punish him! God uses storms in our life to direct us onto the path of His will. Are we going to ignore his presence, or will we recognize Him as He moves in our life?

      Sermon Recap(4/3) "Don't Shoot the Messenger"

      The story of Jonah is often remembered as a childhood Bible story and usually associated with a whale(although according to the text, it was “a great fish”)

      However, it is much more than that. It's a prophetic book that spends more time on the prophet than the prophesy. The message lies in the life of Jonah and how he responded to God's message.

      In Jonah 1:2 God declares his message to Jonah,

      Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

      Jonah immediately took action, but he did not follow the command of the Lord. He fled to Tarshish, which was exactly the opposite way from Nineveh.

      3 things to consider when reading the book of Jonah:

      PICTURE OF A RUNNER

      Jonah's first reaction was to run from the presence of God. As the story unfolds, we see just how impossible that is. God is the main character of this story. Not Jonah, the great fish, or the people of Nineveh. This is the story of God's relentless pursuit after the prodigal prophet, Jonah. He is who is behind the scenes guiding the wind that made the stormy sea, the conviction in the hearts of the Assyrians, and the vine that grew to give Jonah shade.

      PICTURE OF RELENTLESS GRACE

      The people of Nineveh were known for being terrible sinners. Their land was stained red from all the shed blood of their enemies, they built pillars of human heads, and they killed them by ripping their skin off and leaving them in the sun to die. God wanted those people to experience His grace.

      PICTURE OF RESURRECTION

      Matthew 12:38-41

      Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
      He answered,“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.

      Jesus spent three days and three nights in the grave, and Jonah spend three days and three nights in the fish. The book of Jonah shows us the foreshadowing of Christ's resurrection.

      The fact that Jesus mentions the story of Jonah should make us all the more eager to study it! If Jesus found it important, we should too!

      Jonah was bitter against God's grace on the Assyrians. He may have thought “anyone but them, God!” He didn't feel that they were deserving of His grace. Jonah wasn't deserving of God's grace, and neither are we, but He extends it to us anyways. Do we have barriers between people like Jonah? Do we think “Oh, not those people, too far gone for God to save.?

      Jonah tried to escape God's calling by fleeing to Tarshish. Are we trying to escape from God's call in our own lives? We all have a Tarshish. We all find our own escapes: shopping, work, busy schedules, etc. Our Tarshish is only a temporary distraction from the Lord. The book of Jonah is a perfect example that we can never hide from God and His plans.

      So let's stop running, and enjoy God’s grace, favor, goodness, peace, provision, protection, joy, and strength!

      Sermon Recap (3/27) "Raised to Life"

      Have you ever been surprised? Mark 16 tells us about the greatest surprise of all time. The resurrection of Jesus Christ!

      There is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ”
      -Brooke Foss Wescott

      The basis of Christianity rests on His resurrection! 

      If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
      -Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

      MARK 16:1-8 1

      Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

      Through this amazing event He changed lives forever. In particular, four people were immediately affected by His resurrection.

      1. MARY MAGDALENE

      They called her Mary Magdalene because she was from Magdala. Just like Jesus was called Jesus the Nazarene because he was from Nazareth. Magdala was a thriving town with a large textile industry. It is likely that she was wealthy. However, she was a woman plagued with internal struggle. She was possessed  by seven demons that Jesus cast out. In the Bible, the number seven is a number of completion. She was completely overwhelmed by demons!

      On the outside she may have looked beautiful and well-off, but on the inside she was broken and separated from God. She may have even carried a bad reputation, but Jesus knew who she really was.

      1 Samuel 16:7 God tells us that

      The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

      He freed her from demons and wickedness. He calmed her soul from anxiety. For the rest of her life she continued to serve Jesus as a faithful servant.

      2. MARY MOTHER OF JAMES

      She was mother of James the Less. There were two disciples named James. One, the more popular James who spent his time very close to Jesus, and one who followed Him without as much intimacy, James the Less. She must have spent a lot of time explaining who her son was. “No, the other James” She is a backdrop surrounded by more interesting characters.

      Even though she may not have had an eventful past like Mary Magdalene's, her future still matters in Christ. Some people stick out like Mary Magdalene, and others might blend in like Mary Mother of James. That's okay. A testimony is a testimony. What he did in Mary Magdalene's life is no more important for what he did in the life of Mary Mother of James. We are all unique pieces in His story of love and grace. Without each piece, the picture cannot be seen in full for all the beauty it holds.

      3. SALOME

      Salome is the wife of a wealthy fisherman named Zebedee. He is mentioned in Mark 1:19-20:

      When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.”

      Though we never hear about Zebedee again after this, we do know that Salome begins to serve and follow Jesus. As the wife of a wealthy business owner, she may have helped fund much of Jesus' ministry. She even asked Jesus if her sons could sit at His right and left in His coming kingdom, which He said He could not grant because it was only the Father's right to grant that. She knew His worth and wished her sons to be as close to him as possible! She became a follower of Jesus because of the positive influence of her children! 

      4. PETER

      Mark 16:7

      But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

       It was important that Peter heard this news. He was probably hiding out with the rest of the disciples sulking in his defeat. His best friend had died, he deserted Him and, he even denied knowing Him three times. Jesus told him he would, he didn't believe it and now he was realizing the truth. He was most likely having the worst weekend of his life.

      Hearing the news of his resurrection would have surged uncontrollable joy within him. His best friend is Lord and he is ALIVE! He didn't deserve God's grace in this moment, but he received it anyways because God's grace is always undeserved.

      Jesus is still changing the lives of people around us every day. He died for us, and now we can be brought to life through his grace. Are we willing to accept this as truth? Are we ready to take the grace he offers us?

      Are we ready to be raised to life?

      Sermon Recap (3/20) "Crucified"

      The cross is the centerpiece of Christianity. But sadly, many people see the cross as cool, elegant, or even unnecessary. We studied Mark 15:21-47 and saw 7 different eyewitnesses at the cross.

      Simon of Cyrene

      We met Simon, the Libyan proselyte who was in Jerusalem to worship. We learned that Simon was forced to carry Jesus' cross, and that most likely he and his family received Christ after this encounter. Paul seems to mention Rufus (Simon's son's name) in Romans 16:13 as well as Simon's wife being an encouragement to him. We learned that even random encounters with Jesus can change people's lives forever.

      The Thief on the Cross

      Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Luke tells us in his Gospel that one of these thieves repented and confessed Christ as Lord. Even in our fleeting last moments there is hope that we can be with the Lord. 

      The Centurion

      This captain of 100 Roman soldiers had observed dozens, if not hundreds, of crucifixions. Yet there was something about the way Jesus died that stood out to him and caused him to confess Jesus as the Son of God. Even people we write off as "unreachable" may be impacted by the Gospel as they see Jesus.

      Mary Magdalene | Mary mother of Joses | Salome

      These women would normally not be admitted as eyewitnesses in a trial, yet Mark uses them as key witnesses to Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. He also points out that they had been ministering to Jesus even as far back as His work in Galilee. They followed Jesus even to the cross, while the disciples (other than John) were in hiding.

      Joseph of Arimathea

      Joseph was a prominent Sanhedrin council member, yet boldly gets the courage up to ask Pilate for Jesus' body. He then methodically and carefully prepares Jesus' body for burial, allowing Jesus to be buried in his own (rich man's) tomb, a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

      These testimonies tell us one thing: THE CROSS OF CHRIST CHANGES LIVES! Today we could be guilty of emptying the cross of its power (1 Cor 1:17) by trying to spice up our communication of the Gospel. But this is unneeded. We merely need to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-5) and be faithful to live lives that are daily crucified (Gal 2:20). The cross should inform every area of our lives and we should be known foremost as "People of the Cross".

      I can't wait to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this Sunday together with our community!! He is risen indeed!!

      Sermon Recap (3/13) "DELIVERING JESUS" Mark 15:1-20

      Have you ever been guilty of something, but didn't get caught?

      In Mark 15 we see a similar cowardice. We see just how far the fear of man can go to lead someone to absolve themselves of all guilt and shift the blame. We're going to see that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor had the ability to rise to the occasion and end the unjust and illegal trial of an innocent man, but instead he released a guilty man to please the crowd.

      Here we can see that God's sovereignty prevails. Even seemingly inconsequential political problems were a part of God's plan to lead Jesus toward Calvary.

      It's easy to see that Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. When he questioned the crowd, they had no particular crime to accuse him of. He then questioned Jesus himself. Pilate went so far as to tell the crowd that he could not find Jesus guilty of any crime. He even knew that the leading priests arrested Jesus out of envy. However, as a the crowd grew restless and shouted for Jesus to be crucified he offered to release one prisoner in honor of Passover.

      In John 18:39 he asks “Would you like me to release this 'King of the Jews'?”

      They shouted out “No, we want Barabbas.” Barabbas, a murderer.

      So then Jesus was taken away to be scourged(a more severe form of flogging which included a lead-tipped whip. If Jesus had received medical attention afterward, his injuries would likely have required about 2000 stitches), then handed him over to the Roman soldiers for crucifixion.

      Even though he was innocent.

      While it may seem obvious that Pilate should have stood up for Jesus and what he knew was right, fear held him back. He tried to put the responsibility on the Jewish leaders, and eventually gave into the crowd's demands even if it meant letting out a criminal. However, as we look closer at Pilate and Barabbas we can see some similarities in our own lives.

      • Pilate

        In short, Pilate was a coward, but we have all been in a situation like Pilate's. We have crowds we try to please. He knew the truth, questioned it, but still let someone else take responsibility. He turned his back in fear, and saved himself at the cost of an innocent life. He was too worried about what the crowds thought and didn’t want to make a solid decision for Jesus. Similarly we may be wrestling with the person of Jesus, with His claims and His free gift of salvation by being swayed by the crowds, affected because of our own cowardice and our own fear of making a decision for Christ.

        • Barabbas

          Barabbas was guilty of treason, a murderer, and terrorist who tried to overthrow Rome. He was actually a criminal and deserved punishment. However, he was set free by Pilate who put Jesus in his place. In the same way Jesus takes our place. We deserve punishment, but Jesus sets us free. He wants to offer freedom in his forgiveness himself. He wants to give us life and redemption as a gift.

          So who will we be?