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Stories of Thanksgiving
Sermon Discussion
Psalm 107

We took a break this week from out study of Luke to check out Psalm 107. Pastor Ryan led us through a beautiful passage of poetry, shedding light on the power of God's love to redeem and our thanks that occurs as a response.

One of the things Ryan said he loves about the Psalms is that they give us a vocabulary to talk about God and models on how to talk to God. The right words can be key to understanding complex ideas in our lives

What is your favorite "impressive" word to try and use in conversation, that possibly obscure word you learned and love that expresses a complex idea perfectly?

Let's read the passage and discuss some of the Psalmists ideas and words.


In the Psalm there are 4 examples or scenes, highly relatable stories that show how God works in the lives of those He loves. He guides, protects, heals, and comforts with such power that the psalmist feels it demands a proper thank you to God. Ryan pulled out the 4 scenes to discuss at length:

The Wanderers
The Prisoners
The Sick
The Fearful


First the Psalmists tells of those in desert wastes, finding no way and no city to dwell in. In our culture we often idolize and promote an idea of wandering, where you explore and go wherever the wind takes you, because "not all who wander are lost". This is not that wandering. These people are lost. The Psalm describes them as "hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them."

What does it mean to have your soul faint within you? have you ever experienced that? How were you wandering?

Ryan went on to point out that in the Bible God often brought the people He loved out to the wilderness to wander. Abraham, Moses, the Israelites, and even King David wandered lost without a city for a time.

Why do you think God caused these people to wander? What can God accomplish by having us wander? How can we be lead by God and wandering at the same time?

The Psalmist also gives us a promise here in verse 6 "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." If we cry to the Lord, He will come and rescue us.

What does it mean to "cry to the Lord?" Does this mean if we cry to the Lord He will give us whatever we want?


The Psalmist then describes someone who is darkness, sitting in the shadow of death. A rebel, not in the cool "rebel without a cause", pirate with their own ship or star wars way. But in the hopeless career criminal on death row kind of way. The one who knows their actions aren't good for themselves, for society, for the world, but does them anyway and knows they will soon have to pay the ultimate price.

Ryan described the prisoners as people chained to sin, it's a habit they can't quit.

Have you ever been able to stop a bad habit? Why did you stop it? How did you do it?

The prisoners have rejected God's law, which is rejecting God. Ryan pointed out that the law is not an objective cosmic agreement that God is tasked with policing, it actually describes God and His attributes, and when we don't follow it we separate ourselves from God.

Has someone ever rebelled against you? a coworker, friend, roommate, family member? How did you respond? How does God respond?

When we reject someone we put ourselves in conflict that person. In many cases the relationship is so broken terror and dread builds and we may go out of our way to avoid them or avoid the conflict. It can feel like we're in a sort of prison. The psalmist proclaims that God breaks down the door and snaps the bars holding us in that prison. It's a powerful jailbreak where our crimes remain committed and yet we don't have to pay the price.

Have you ever had a conflict where you went out of your way to avoid that person, or they went out of their way to avoid you? how would you describe your feeling during that time? How was the conflict resolved?

THE SICK (v 17-22)

The third group the Psalmist describes are the sick. An illness that is the consequence of sin. Ryan pointed out that at times in history and in the Bible it was common for people to try and assign all illness to a correlating sin. in John 9 Jesus disciple upon encountering a blind man ask Jesus if it was the man or his parents who sinned and caused this malady. It's a lie for us to believe that sickness and affliction is always a punishment, but it is often a consequence.

What is the difference between a punishment and a consequence?

The psalmist goes on saying that often the afflicted are so sick they hate the sight or even the idea of the cure.

Have you even been afflicted and hated the remedy?

We all have sinned and all are sick meaning we the remedy of Jesus.

What does it look like for us to despise the cure of Jesus in our lives?

That same promise again appears in the Psalm, that we can cry to God and He will heal us. Not just make us more comfortable, or treat the symptoms, but truly heal us. A work that can only be replied to with thanks.

Has God healed you of a sickness or consequence lately? Is there a consequence or sickness we can all take to God with you, and cry out to Him that we might see His work and rejoice?

THE FEARFUL (v 23-32)

The last group is described as sailors who find themselves in the midst of a storm, fearing for their lives. It's unique among the stories as the people in this scene did not sin, rebel, or wander. They were going about normal business and yet now find their lives in danger.

Why would God allow us to be put in positions of danger leading to this fear?

The Psalmist says they were at their "wit's end" and Ryan went on to describe this as "their wisdom was swallowed up". Their lives were out of control and there was no idea, plan, scheme, or strategy that would save them.

Where do you turn to for wisdom in your life? How can you ensure it's a wisdom that will not be swallowed up?

Again the Psalmist shares the promise that we can cry to God and be saved from our distress. In the story God comes and stills the water, hushes the sea.

We often feel out of control and panic, we feel in danger. Yet the answer does not seem to be regain control.

Why do you think that is? How can you go about giving over control in your life to God? How would that help you with your fear?


Pray with your group that He would make us quick to cry to our Lord that we might be guided, freed, healed and encouraged. Thank God for His work in our lives that has been shared in the discussion tonight.

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What we learn here is that theology matters, that much of our addiction to power and control is due to false conceptions of God. Gods of our own making may allow us to be “masters of our fate” Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name “moralistic, therapeutic deism” to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans. In his book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, he describes this set of beliefs. God blesses and takes to heaven those who try to live good and decent lives (the “moralistic” belief) The central goal of life is not to sacrifice, or to deny oneself, but to be happy and feel good about yourself ( the “therapeutic” belief). Though God exists and created the world, he does not need to be particularly involved in our lives except when there is a problem (that is “deism”).

This view of God literally makes you master of your fate and captain of your soul. Salvation and happiness are up to you. Some have pointed out that “moralistic therapeutic deism” could only develop in a comfortable, prosperous society among privileged people. People “at the top” are eager to attribute their position to their own intellect, savvy, and hard work. The reality is much more complicated. Personal connections, family environment, and what appears to be plain luck determine how successful a person is. We are the product of three things – genetics, environment, and our personal choices. – but two of these three factors we have no power over. We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular view of God and reality lead us to think.

Popular culture often tells young people, “you can be anything you set your mind to.” But it is cruel to say that to a five-foot-four-inch eighteen-year-old boy who yearns, more than anything else, to be an NFL linebacker. To use an extreme example, if you had been born in a yurt in Outer Mongolia, instead of where you were, it wouldn’t have mattered how hard you worked or used your talents – you would have ended up poor and powerless. To come closer to home, think of the impact of your family background on you. You may spend your younger years telling yourself that you will not be like your parents, you will be your own person. However, somewhere in the middle of your life, it will become clearer how indelibly your family has shaped you.

This was an excerpt from Timothy Keller's book Counterfeit Gods

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A Jesus for the Weak

Sermon Discussion
Luke 8:22-56

"We are weak, but He is strong". What does this phrase stir in you? How do you respond when you hear this phrase?

I. Weak Disciples: Jesus' Power Over Disaster

The sudden storm on the lake is very much like how we often experience disaster: all of a sudden. The storm reminds us how little we control things in our life; that we are really pretty powerless in most things in life.

What are the different ways that we respond to disaster in life? What are some emotions that you are tempted to feel in the midst of disaster?

What are some emotions that you are tempted to feel in the midst of disaster? What do we see about Jesus in this scene that brings you comfort?

What do we see about Jesus in this scene that brings you comfort? How do you determine the difference between weakness and foolishness? How does Jesus meet us in that place?

How do you determine the difference between weakness and foolishness? How does Jesus meet us in that place?

II. Weak Spirits: Jesus' Power Over Darkness

The next scene reminds us that we are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. In this scene, we see the power that Jesus has over the spiritual, along with the physical. ur minds are susceptible to dark forces and dark ideas. How have your seen this in our culture?

Our minds are susceptible to dark forces and dark ideas. How have your seen this in our culture? We can be so easily swayed by false ideas of God and the world that He made. What are some false ideas that our culture believes about Jesus and who He is, and what He has done?

We can be so easily swayed by false ideas of God and the world that He made. What are some false ideas that our culture believes about Jesus and who He is, and what He has done?

Jesus fully restores the demoniac man to a place with Him and with society. What a beautiful picture of Jesus' redemption in this man's life; Jesus restores him to being a human. Where might you need the restoration of Jesus in your mind?

What might be some things that you are confused about when it comes to God and the world that He created?

III. Weak Bodies: Jesus Power Over Disease

What are some of the things that the woman would have felt and experienced with this disease in terms of psychological, societal, spiritual terms?

What does Jesus do for her heart? What does He do for her body? For her place in society?

There are lots of times when we can feel unclean because of the sins we have done, or the sins that are done to us. We can feel like outcast, and hopeless.Where might you need Jesus to heal and restore you today?

Where might you need Jesus to heal and restore you today?

IV. Weak Lives: Jesus' Power Over Death

In this scene we see Jesus exhibiting power over even death itself!

Jesus ultimate mission in coming to earth was to die for all of the wrong stuff that has gone on in the world, then rise to new life, bringing a newness of life and light and power! He died to put death to death.

What do you feel in your life is dead and lifeless? What has led to that? How can Jesus bring new life to that place/area of your life?

V. Pray for One Another!
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Parenting Resources

Pastor Duane Smets 

Family is a big deal to God.  God Himself is the great and perfect father who handles a lot of responsibility in ruling over and caring for all of his creation. God has a son named Jesus whom he has forever been in a healthy and happy relationship with.

God sacrificially gives away his son Jesus to come to earth where he lives and dies in order to save God's wayward human children. God then allows these wayward children to be adopted into the holy family through belief in the person and work of his son.

Family is definitely a big deal to God. In many ways, you might even be able to say the whole story of the Bible is the story of God's family.

For those who have experienced the pain of broken or lost relationships in their family, knowing God's so big on family can have one of two effects. It can either create great difficulty since family is a sore subject and the result is a person distances themselves from God. Or it can create great hope and healing since we are designed for family and can experience redemption and grace by belonging to God's special family through his son Jesus.

Not surprisingly, the Bible also has a lot of practical instruction on family. For many who are new to family or come from a family who did not know or exhibit the loving principles of God's family the Bible is a great aid and resource to turn to for instructions on how to do family well. Below is a list of resources (books, articles, sermons, and key Bible passages to study) I highly recommend for learning about family from God's perspective as he has revealed in the Bible.


Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent & Barbara Hughes
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding The Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Kostenberger
Parenting By God's Promises by Joel Beeke
Shepherding A Child's Heart by Paul David Tripp
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones


How I Pastor My Family by Justin Hyde
Fathers Who Father Their Family by Duane Smets
Six Ways Fathers Pursue Christ In Their Fatherhood by Scott Thomas
On Being A Wife and A Mother by Tracy Martin
The Gospel, Grace & Our Kids by Amy Smets
Parents Require Obedience by John Piper


How Spanking Can Be Both Biblical and Unbiblical with Paul David Tripp


Adoption Resources by Duane Smets
Children's Catechism by Duane Smets
Marriage Resources by Duane Smets
God, You & Our Kids by Duane Smets

Key Bible Verses

• Genesis 1:28 - "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."

• Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

• Joshua 24:15 - "Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served...But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

• Psalm 96:7 - "Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!"

• Proverbs 1:8 - "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."

• Proverbs 15:20 - "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother."

• Proverbs 29:15 - "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."

• Malachi 4:6 - "And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers."

• Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

• Romans 8:14-17 - "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

• Hebrews 12:5-11 - "Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

• 1 John 2:9-14 - "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." 

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A Jesus for Family

Sermon Discussion
Luke 8:4-21

This Sunday was Father's Day, and it just so happens the passage we came to on our journey through look focuses on God as a Father inviting us into His family.

What do you think makes a family? What are some things culture believes creates family?

Luke has been reporting on all the different kind of people that Jesus reached out towards. Duane has shown us "Jesus reaching out to people who hate church, to people who are tired of the old and need change, to people who are judgmental, to people who are rich, to people who are poor, to marginalized and oppressed women." And now he reaches out to people who need a good family. Let's read the passage:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'

11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

16 "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." 21 But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." – Luke 8:4-21

I.  A Listening Family

In the parable there are four possible soils for the seed to land on.

It can land on the path where it's immediately eaten or trampled. Duane described this as "in one ear and out the other." Possibly the hearer considers the news and ideas for a minute but immediately moves onto the next idea.

How often do you allow things to go in one ear and out the other? Why do you allow that to happen? Are there times when you tune out to God's word? Why do people quickly move on from hearing the Gospel without being impacted?

It can land on the rocks where it springs up and shortly thereafter dies from lack of water. Duane pointed out that plants need nurturing, watering and care. For humans, that comes in the form of rich community.

What are some ingredients that create a rich community? What is the richest community in your life?

It can land in the thorns where it is choked out by the things of this world. Riches and pleasures of this life are too much, and even though the plant grows, it ultimately dies early and is unfruitful.

Worldly pleasures seem harmless and fun, but Jesus describes them as choking. Why do you think that is?

San Diego, in particular, seems to have more people who struggle with making God and church a priority, why do you think that is?

It can land on good soil where it will grow and be fruitful. Pastor Duane pointed out for a seed is not easy, it's a lot of work. It needs care, water, and many seasons (teaching, community, and time). Psalm 1 describes the blessed man who plants themselves by water and yields its fruit in season. Jesus invites us to enjoy the good soil He's given us to grow in. He's let us in on the secrets, as a part of His family.

Which of the three –  teaching, community, and time –  do you most feel you need to continue growing? Why do you think Jesus allows and invites some people into His family?

II.  A Legitimate Family

Jesus moves on from the parable to another word picture, a lamp which has light that's purpose is to reveal all. the light doesn't exist to be hidden away, it exists to expose reality, and can't be stopped from revealing those things. For believers it's not just about going through the actions, saying the words, singing the songs. It's about genuine change, stemming from God being the center of your identity.

What does it mean to have your core identity stem from being in God's family? What are some things you can do to remind yourself of that identity?

III.  A Laboring Family

A true family doesn't just exist for the sake of existing, it exists to love and care for each other. We see this in the God's modeling of family for us. In Luke Jesus also says that "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” It's an active participation in His work.

What are some things you've been considering to show your love for God's family, in San Diego? and at the Resolved?

Pray for One Another

Pray with your group, to God the Father, thanking Him for being a loving Dad, inviting us into his family and that we would be guided to where we would be most fruitful and useful.

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Knowing God

Sermon Discussion
1 John 2:1-6

Before we discuss the sermon, take some time to discuss people’s reactions to the financial mission report from May (over $91k was given!).  How did you respond when you heard the news of the increased giving?  Has this last month or so had any effect on how you view your finances or the way you give?

How can we encourage and maintain generous hearts in our church?

This week we departed from the regular sermon series in Luke to learn from the companion series in 1 John by Pastor Ryan.  

Ryan highlighted two key relational words used in 1 John frequently: “fellowship” and “know”.

What comes to mind when you think of having fellowship with someone?  How is it different than other relationships?

How would you define knowing someone?  At what point in time in any given relationship could you say you truly know that person?  

Ryan focused on three names or titles used to describe God in the Scriptures, and each name or title refers to one of the three Persons of the Trinity.

I. Abba (God the Father)

Christians are called “little children” by John in this passage, and it is meant as a term of endearment.  Why is it important for us as Christians to identify ourselves as children of God?

When you think of God as your Father how does that affect the way you relate to him? Think about him? Talk with him?

The parent-child relationship in life is one filled with profound influence and transformative power.  What are some ways your relationship with your parents has influenced the person you’ve become?  How has it influenced the way you relate to others?

God’s design, through the gospel, is that we would come to realize and embrace that He delights in us and smiles over us!  Have you ever thought of God smiling at you and about you?  Is it easy or hard for you think about this? Why?

How might the thought of God’s perpetual smile over you affect the way you relate to Him and others?

A basic relational truth is that we begin to look and act like the ones we spend the most time with.  How have you seen your relationship with God transform the way you think or act?

II. Advocate (Jesus Christ)

Though fellowship, God transforms us to resemble Him more and more, we still stumble and fall in sin.  John wants his readers to be very clear in their understanding that when we stumble in sin it does not affect our status as God’s children because Jesus Christ, our brother, is our Advocate.  An advocate is a defender and comforter, one who stands beside you.

When you think of Jesus defending you, what comes to mind?  How does it make you feel to be defended?

What are some things we need to be defended against?

Satan stands as our accuser before God reminding Him of our shame, guilt, sin, and fear.  Jesus’ blood and righteousness intercede on our behalf.

When we feel the accusations of the Enemy and even the accusations we have against ourselves, how can we use the truth of Jesus our Advocate to confront the accusations?  What are some real life examples of how you’ve done this in your own life?

Ryan reminded us that God is for us!  He sent His Son for you.  He sent His Spirit for you.  Do you tend to think of God as being for you or against you, or maybe sometimes a little of both?

How might the truth that God is always FOR you change the way your perceive your life?

III. Agape (Holy Spirit)

Love is often an ambiguous concept.  How do you think our culture would define love?

Later in the epistle of 1 John, John declares that “God is love (agape)” (4:8).  This is often a very misinterpreted and misrepresented concept and can lead to a very sentimentalized idea of who God truly is.  John is communicating that perfect love is the essential nature and character of God.  It is who He is, and there is no love that exists that does not come from Him as the Source of love.  

Because God is love, we can love.  How can we apply the truth of God’s perfect love to the way we think and interpret things?

God did not want us to be confused as to what His love truly means, nor to doubt that His love is real for us.  Read 1 John 4:9-11.  According to this passage, what does love look like?  How can we be sure God really loves us?

When we have fellowship with God through Jesus, our lives will begin to reflect His life more and more, and this will give us a confidence and certainty of faith.

The fruit of the Spirit (the character of Jesus Christ) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  Have you seen increased measures of these in your life?  How so?  

Have you seen the fruit demonstrated by others in your group?  How so? 

Pray Together 

Pray for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Fatherhood of God.

Pray for the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Defender.

Pray for eyes to see how unsearchable and limitless is the love of God in Jesus Christ.

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If You Love Jesus You'll Love His Church

Pastor Duane Smets

Mark Dever, a well-known pastor not too long ago began his sermon with this phrase,

"If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of a church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell."

Indeed numerous recent studies have shown that more and more Christians are now trying to get more spiritual by getting less church. There's even whole books written to promote this idea. Consider these titles, Life After Church, Quitting Church, So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore, and They Like Jesus But Not The Church.

The story is told that Charles Spurgeon once found himself in a conversation with man whom he was encouraging to join the church. The man said,

"Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church."

To which Spurgeon replied, "Why not?"

The man said, "Well, because I can be a Christian without it."

Spurgeon was taken aback and replied,

"Are you quite clear about that? You think you can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord's commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you it is just as good of a brick laying on the ground in the dirt as it would be as part of a house. It is a good for nothing brick. Sir, are living contrary to your purpose, to the life which Christ would have you live and there will be much blame and injury to you for doing so."

Hebrews 10:23-27 says,

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."

First, the call here is to "hold fast" to our confession "without wavering." So we know we are going to be prone to let go and waver as people. The answer or antidote is for us to stir one another up. That word "stir" is a strong word, sometimes even meaning provoke. So we're to stimulate, stir or provoke one another to love and good works and the main thing which is going to enable us to do that is by "not neglecting to meet together."

It doesn't take much here to recognize it's talking about church worship service. This isn't a call to keep making sure you're hanging out...eating meals and drinking beers in the basement or whatever. No this is a special kind of meeting together, one that has its sights set on "the Day" that's "drawing near" which is a reference to the return of Jesus. This is a meeting together for worship.

We’ve got this strong call and command for us as Christians to make sure we're regularly gathering together and meeting as the church with this consequence for us if we don’t.

The Bible uses five main metaphors to describe what the church is.

A. Bride

One is a bride. In Ephesians 5, parallels between Jesus and the church are made based on the relationship and roles of husband and wife. It says Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her...so that he might present the church to himself in splendor (Ephesians 5:25,27).” The book of Revelation straight out calls the church Jesus' bride. The church is Jesus beautiful wife, whom he came into the world to specifically pursue and die for on a cross so that she might be redeemed.

Jesus loves the church. For you married men, can you imagine if you had a friend who every time he came over he would crack jokes about your wife, talk about how ugly she was and how he couldn't stand her and didn't want to have anything to do with your wife? If whenever she came in the room he rolled his asked and then asked you if you could make here leave. In effect, this is what we do is we say we're Christians but we're not into Jesus' church.

John Stott, a great theologian who recently passed away, says of the church,

"On earth, she is often in filthy rags and tatters, stained and ugly, despised and persecuted. But one day she will be seen for what she is, nothing less than the bride of Christ, free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement, holy and without blemish, beautiful and glorious."

You know it’s easy to criticize the church. There's no way around it. Every church has its problems. That's because churches are made of people. One time a guy came up to a pastor who had had a bad church experience at his previous church and said he was looking for a new one but was somewhat tentative because he didn't want to get mixed up with a "Judas" again. The pastor replied, "Then my church is not the one you're looking for and if you should happen to find such a church I beg you not to join it, for you will spoil the whole thing."

The church is Jesus' bride he came to die for. If we truly love Jesus we'll love, cherish, appreciate and honor his bride.

B. Building

A second thing used to describe the church is that of a building. 1 Peter 2:4-8 says the church, though they are people rejected by men are like "chosen and precious" stones God picked out and is taking them and using them together to build a spiritual house on top of Jesus the cornerstone or foundation. In 1 Corinthians 3, the building of the church is called the temple and built on Jesus.

Do you know what would happen if you just started building a house on dirt without laying down any kind of cement or stone foundation first? After time that wood would get wet and it would shift in the dirt and rot and the whole thing would eventually come falling down. It house can't stand without a foundation.

God is a phenomenal architect and is building the most glorious church building ever seen because it's built with people who lives get changed by the power of the gospel. The result is more magnificent than the largest and most ornate cathedrals of the world. The church is the most incredible building project ever taken on and Jesus is at its base.

C. Body

A third way God describes the church that it is his body upon which Jesus is the head. Listen to this phenomenal passage. Ephesians 1:19-22 says,

"The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (is) according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."

This passage ties past, present, future and all things to the church. Are you starting to get a feel for the scope and significance and importance of the church in how God sees and feels about it? The church is Jesus' body and he is its head! Kevin DeYoung and a friend of his wrote a book titled, Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion and says this idea of liking Jesus but not liking his church is like decapitation. When you're not into the Church you cut the head off Jesus because you're not part of his body. You're not meant to just carry around a head. That's weird! The church is Jesus' body and he loves and cares for it and nourishes it with his word.

D. Flock

A fourth picture of the church in the Bible is that it is a flock of sheep and Jesus is the shepherd of it. In John 10 Jesus says the church is a group of sheep who listen to his voice and follow him. In fact, the word "church" itself simply means "called out ones." It was a common word used for all kinds of stuff. If you were going to have a meeting of some kind you would call some people up and ask them to come. Jesus took that common word and turned it into this deep, powerful picture for those who followed him.

He calls himself the "good shepherd" and then later Peter calls him the "chief shepherd." What makes him so good is he protects the sheep from wolves and then he pays the ultimate price lays down his life for the sheep when he dies on the cross in order to save them.

You know what happen to sheep without a shepherd? They get lost and they die either from a lack of food or from predators. Have you ever noticed there is no difference between the singular word for sheep and the plural word for sheep? They're both sheep. Sheep cannot exist by themselves and sheep are never meant to be alone apart from the flock. The church is Jesus' flock of sheep and he ferociously loves and cares for them.

E. Tree

Lastly, Jesus describes his church as a tree in which he is the vine, stalk or the trunk and the church is the branches. He says the tree is crafted and continued by abiding in his love and then it is able to bear fruit.

What would happen to a bunch of branches that were not connected to a vine or a trunk? They would break apart and dry up and die. God sees the church as meant to be a beautiful big strong tree planted by streams of water that yields much fruit through which to feed the hungry world with. The church is the true and better tree which replaces the one from the ancient garden of old.

A bride, a building, a body, a flock, and a tree; these are just the descriptions with a vivid picture attached to it. There is also the reality that the church is the royal family of God comprised of adopted in brothers and sisters of Christ. The Church is the vehicle for the kingdom of God, where he extends his rule and reign and will usher in the new heavens and new earth when God makes everything right and new again!

Nearly every single place you turn in the Bible, you see the Church. It is the central focal point of God's purpose and plan in redemption through which he shows how good and glorious he is.

Simply put, the Church is glorious.

Pastor Duane

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A Theology of Sunday

Sermon Discussion

This week Pastor Duane took the opportunity to teach about why Sunday is so important for the life of the church and of the individual believer. We have an interesting phenomenon happening in our church, with having a lot of members, but also a lot of them irregular in attendance on Sunday's. Thus, as we are in a season of our church where we are being unified in a new way by God's Spirit, the important aspect of regular meeting together on Sunday's is just another topic to be unified In. 

We emailed out to you at the end of last week Duane's article, A Theology of Sunday, for you to review and to discuss with your Community Group this week. We would love to have a  robust discussion in our Community Groups about why we attend church on Sunday, and why it is so important to our souls. 

A. What is Sabbath? Why is Sunday called the Sabbath Day?

1.  What do the Scriptures say about the regular gathering of God's people for worship, for encouragement, for teaching, and for giving?

2. What are the different parts of the church service, and why do we have them as part of ours? 

3. What is the benefit to being regular on Sunday's? 

4. What is the negative impact of only irregular attendance? 

5. How is God glorified in our resting with His family? 

6. What are some challenges to you coming on Sunday? What are barriers that our culture has that make regular attendance on Sunday's difficult? 

Pray for each other and for the church! 

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The Accidental Feminist

Courtney Reissig

This past Sunday we discus the crucial role women play in Jesus's story of redemption for the world. We took a look at the modern concept of feminism and how it plays into the Christian life. Here is the excerpt from Courtney Reissig's book The Accidental Feminist

“Although many Christians wouldn’t identify themselves as feminists, the reality is that the feminist movement has influenced us all in profound ways. We unconsciously reflect our culture’s ideas related to womanhood rather than what’s found in the Bible.

I’m an accidental feminist. For many years I unwittingly possessed some heart attitudes that made me a classic feminist.

I believe many women today find themselves confused, just like I was as an early Christian. Part of my rebellion against things that I deemed too domestic or feminine was rooted in my misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian woman. What exactly does it look like to be a Christian wife? Is it baking cookies, keeping an immaculate home, and being a mom to five kids? What about the woman who is a baking novice or, like me, a baking failure? Is womanhood only about the quiet and sensitive types? What about the woman who has a career? The woman who can’t have kids or simply doesn’t want a 'quiverful'? What about the woman who doesn’t feel gifted to teach in her local church? Is there a place for her? What about the woman who does? Does she? What about the vast number of single women in our churches today? Is there room for these sisters?

Caricatures of womanhood are what get us into trouble. When we reduce womanhood to the tasks we accomplish, or cultural expectations, or talents and personality traits, we are doing a disservice to women everywhere. Recovering from feminism and embracing God’s idea of womanhood is far more than a throwback to a 1950s television show.

What I failed to understand was that true freedom cannot be found in independence from authority at all. True freedom is found in understanding our Creator and how he wants us to live. True freedom is knowing that this world has meaning, and we are created for a purpose. True freedom is knowing that God had a good design when he created us male and female.”

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A Jesus for Women

Sermon Discussion
Luke 7:36-8:3

We continued our deep dive into Dr. Luke's account of Jesus life. This week we find Jesus on the road, touring around Galilee. Jesus has just healed a Centurion's servant from miles away and brought a poor widow's son back from the dead. Having done that, a local religious leader hosts a sort of dinner party for Jesus so that people may come and discuss these things. This week Luke told us about Jesus' inclusion of women in His ministry, which was pretty radical at the time. Pastor Duane wanted to spend some time looking at that to get a peek at how God views women. 

This week Luke told us about Jesus' inclusion of women in His ministry, which was pretty radical at the time. Pastor Duane wanted to spend some time looking at that to get a peek at how God views women. 

What do you think are some things culture believes about Christianity's view and treatment of women

Pastor Duane picked it up Dr. Luke's report in chapter 7, verse 36. 

Pastor Duane wanted to highlight Luke's reporting of women's involvement with Jesus' ministry. There are three women called out in chapter 8 and an emotional story in chapter 7 about a broken woman and Jesus. Duane had three points:

I.    Feminists for Jesus
II.   Forgiveness from Jesus
III.  Friends of Jesus

I.  Feminists for Jesus

Duane hopped to the end of this passage and wanted to point out the 3 women mentioned here and their gender defying roles. Mary Magdalene was a close disciple of Jesus, when women disciples were non-existent. Joanna helped run Herod's ginormous and complicated household. Susanna seems to be independently wealthy and using those resources to help propel the ministry. They're awesome women, putting their gifts and talents to work for God's glory.

What are some ways these women don't fit with what could be called a traditional (1950s-ish) view of womenWould you describe these women as feminists? Why or why not?

Would you describe these women as feminists? Why or why not? Duane defined the term feminism as a movement to give women equal rights and standing. Like many movements it's aim is good, though some proponents can take it too far to a place where gender is no longer acknowledged, sacrificing a big special component of who God made each of us to be. Duane read from a book called "The Accidental Feminist" which included a quote "True freedom is knowing that God had a good design when he created us male and female.”

Duane defined the term feminism as a movement to give women equal rights and standing. Like many movements it's aim is good, though some proponents can take it too far to a place where gender is no longer acknowledged, sacrificing a big special component of who God made each of us to be. Duane read from a book called "The Accidental Feminist" which included a quote "True freedom is knowing that God had a good design when he created us male and female.”

What do you think of this idea? What does it mean? Do you agree with it?

II.  Forgiveness from Jesus

The beginning of the passage starts with a prostitute crashing a dinner party to dramatically serve Jesus because she loved Him. It was a huge faux pas for her and put Jesus in a potentially awkward situation. Instead of seperating himself from the woman, he instead tells Simon the religious leader hosting the party that he should be more like this woman. Because she knows her sin, knows Jesus has forgiven it and is deeply moved. Simon doesn't even seem to know that he and the woman are in the same sin boat. 

Duane mentioned that when reading a passage is good to look at the characters and see if you can see yourself in any of them? In this story you only really have a few choices. 

Do you see think you have more in common with the unbroken Simon or the broken woman?

Jesus points out that If you feel a lack of love towards people it’s likely because you have not really experienced the grace and forgiveness of Christ in your own heart and life.

Where are some places you find it hard to love people? How can you use God's grace to you to help you love those people better?

III.  Friends of Jesus

In the story, Simon was a bit appalled that Jesus was not rebuking or at least trying to distance himself from the woman. He though "a man of God should not associate with sinners." Jesus did associate though, early and often. He was consistently reaching out and befriending sinners, it's what he came to do and calls us to do. Duane read a quote from Philip Ryken that said "The love of Christ leads us to build relationships with the obvious sinners we know."

How are you building relationships with sinners?

How can the love of Christ help you move towards building those relationships?

Pray for One Another

Thank God for making us all in His image, loving us all, forgiving us all. And ask that we might be moved by His love to start engaging enthusiastically with fellow sinners around us.