Joshua Harris titled his message this past Sunday “Rule-igion.” He taught from Matthew 12:1-14 how we are often tempted as Christians to be focused on rules to the detriment of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
In what ways do you drift toward “rule-igion” instead of resting on Jesus? Consider the following list:
• Do you feel more confident and more accepted by God when you are doing well spiritually?
• Do you wonder if God has forsaken you, turned his back or finds you unacceptable when having a bad day spiritually?
• If God asked you, “Why should I answer your prayer?” would you inventory any unconfessed sins, remind God of your consistent quiet times, or tell him of your good works towards others?
• When reading your Bible, what does your heart and mind notice first and most—the things you need to do or the works done by the Savior?
• Which are you more aware of, all the ways you need to grow or who you are in Christ?
• Can others’ personal examples or practices bring guilt or discouragement?
• Do you think that God’s forgiveness only kicks in after you have reached some mysterious level of remorse, repentance or suffering for your sin?
• Do you find that being led by the Spirit and trusting in God’s sovereign wisdom are not nearly as appealing as having a set of rules that will settle every question?
• When you hear teaching that includes practical instruction, do you tend to leave discouraged because your already overwhelming task list just increased?
• Do you feel discouraged or condemned when you fail, make a mistake or sin?
• Do you tend to relate to Jesus as the new Lawgiver? Is your prayer and plea to ask the Lord how to do it?
• Do you tend to be critical, perfectionistic, or self-righteous?
• Do you find it difficult to relate to others who practice differently than you do on nonessential or disputable matters? Do your personal convictions on disputable matters tend to become laws everyone should follow?
October 17 2012 at 10:33 am 0 Comments
“We need men who will shoulder the weight of manhood as God designed it, who will live it out day to day but will incline their manhood toward the gospel.” —Dr. Randy Stinson
In a culture where the definition of what it truly means to be a man and how that affects one’s actions has been so distorted by sin, Randy Stinson brings his knowledge of Scripture to bear in the lives of male Christians. Speaking to men from our congregation and surrounding area churches, Dr. Stinson covered four main topics at the September 29 Manhood Conference:
- Session 1: Be Strong and Prove Yourself a Man (1 Kings 2:1-9)
- Session 2: Men Who Lead (Ephesians 5:22-23)
- Session 3: Raising Masculine Sons and Feminine Daughters (Ephesians 5:22-23)
- Session 4: Leading to Reach the Generations: Leaving a Legacy (1 Peter 1:1-7)
Men, if you weren’t able to attend, or simply want to review Dr. Stinson’s biblically-informed exhortations to embrace your identity as a man, stream or download the audio from his sessions. We pray that these resources will help you embrace your unique identity as a male image-bearer of Christ and live for his glory.
September 11 2012 at 9:02 pm 0 Comments
This past Sunday, Joshua Harris preached part 16 of our series, The Life and Words of Jesus: The Gospel According to Matthew. His text was Matthew 6:1-6;16-18, where Jesus encourages disciples of the kingdom of heaven to answer two important questions in relation to spiritual practices and worship of God: What is our motive? What is our reward?
Options for reviewing the message:
Questions for reflection and application:
2. In what areas of your life (spiritual disciplines, parenting, giving, serving, job, etc.) do you subtly, or even overtly, let others know of your good deeds and acts of righteousness?
3. In what ways do you live for and crave the applause, adoration and approval of others?
4. When you sacrifice time, energy or financial resources for others and they fail to express gratefulness, how is your heart tempted? What does that reveal about your motive?
5. How can the least impressive life (by the world’s standards) have eternal significance? How does living for the audience of One change the motives and posture of your heart?
6. Why is the Father’s promise to reward us for our secret acts of devotion and worship so incredible?
June 25 2012 at 8:03 pm 0 Comments
Robin Boisvert preached on Sunday from Matthew 5:1-12, the very familiar opening of what we know as “The Sermon on the Mount.” The passage contains Jesus’ authoritative teaching about the way believers should live as members of the kingdom of heaven.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy for which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Costly grace is the incarnation of God.
Audio and an outline are available in the Resource Library.
May 14 2012 at 10:25 pm 0 Comments
In his message yesterday, Joshua Harris pointed out that most of us have never heard a sermon on Jesus’ birth except around Christmas time. He went on to say that it’s backwards to think of Jesus’ birth only in connection with the holiday, since the holiday is built upon the the event, not the other way around. You can take the holiday away, and the birth of Jesus Christ would still be an historical reality of greatest importance for every day of the year and every person who has ever lived.
Joshua shared two quotes from J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. In the first, Packer makes the point that we must understand and believe in Jesus’ incarnation to make sense of and explain his life and exploits. He notes that people struggle to believe that Jesus performed miracles or rose from the dead, when the larger question is whether or not the incarnation is true. If we believe that Jesus is God become man, everything else about him makes sense.
If Jesus had been no more than a very remarkable, godly man, the difficulties in believing what the New Testament tells us about his life and work would be truly mountainous. But if Jesus was the same person as the eternal Word, the Father’s agent in creation, “through whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2), it is no wonder if fresh acts of creative power marked his coming into this world, and his life in it and his exit from it. It is not strange that he, the Author of life, should rise from the dead. If he was truly God the Son, it is much more startling the he should die than that he should rise again.
In the second quote Packer references the Athanasian Creed, an ancient statement of Christian belief used by the church since the sixth century:
The mystery of the Incarnation is unfathomable. We cannot explain it; we can only formulate it. Perhaps it has never been formulated better than in the words of the Athanasian Creed. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man…perfect God, and perfect man…who although he be God and man: yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the manhood into God.” Our minds cannot get beyond this. What we see in the manger is, in Charles Wesley’s words,
Our God contracted to a span;
Incomprehensibly made man.
Incomprehensibly. We shall be wise to remember this, to shun speculation and contentedly to adore.
Look for the message audio and an outline in the Resource Library.
May 7 2012 at 6:05 pm 2 Comments
Robin Boisvert opened our series on the Gospel of Matthew yesterday by reminding us of the simple but all-important priority that we need to know Jesus better. We need to grow in knowing, loving and following Jesus, and nothing will help us do these things more than seeing him afresh through the Gospels.
Robin quoted a couple of our pastors on why they believe it’s important for us to take up the daunting challenge of an extended study in Matthew. One pastor said, “I think that there are quite a few of our people that are just wandering right now in their walk with God. I think the promises of God in Christ can and will ignite a passion in them. Being pressed into the Word will cause us to understand the key Old Testament passages that Matthew uses. Seeing the face of Christ, sitting with Christ, and hearing his words will encourage many.”
Robin went on to say, “You know, we each may have our own conception of who he [Christ] his, and it may be flawed. We need to take a close and sustained look at what the Bible actually says about Jesus and not how we think of him. Because to know him, and love him, and serve him, so as to glorify him, is the reason we exist.”