Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas

This week we will take a departure from our ongoing series in Philippians. I will be on vacation for a bit, but look for the next post in early January.

Devotion: Luke 19:1-10

Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. And if you are like me, then this little song goes through your head every time you come across the story of King Jesus and the short-stature, wayward sinner in Luke 19. (Go ahead and watch the clip so you can get it out of your system)

The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus occupies a treasured place in my life. Much like the vertically challenged tax-collector I came to see Jesus and was surprised that he came for me first. Through repentance Zacchaeus came into salvation that day and I know my own salvation is a series of repentance in my life. All that being said, it is Luke 19:10 that is of particular importance in my thoughts just now:
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." -Luke 19:10 ESV
Jesus Christ was born to save. The Son of God who became the Son of Man in the womb of the virgin came to find those who were lost in sin and to deliver them through His atoning work on the cross into salvation, that is, eternal life with God. There were those that day and this day who want to save Jesus from sinners putting up barriers to stop the grace of God. Some want to stop Jesus from associating with sinners altogether. Others want to pretend that sin is not a big deal. Jesus takes sin seriously and associates with sinners that they may be saved.
In the coming weeks think of how Jesus has come to you, a sinner, and saved you. Do not stop there, though. No, the call of the Gospel, the call of Christmas, is to share the Good News of salvation with other sinners and see how Jesus still seeks and saves the lost.

News for You

  • Christmas Eve service will be at 7 p.m. Bring a friend and help them connect with Jesus.
  • Christmas Day will see our regular service at 10 a.m. 
  • New Small Groups will be forming in January. Look for details soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Commending Discipleship: Part Two

Devotion: Philippians 2:20-22

The Apostle Paul was imprisoned as he wrote to the Philippian church. He was, therefore, unable to go and be with the Philippians and help them to work through a distraction to their ministry (more on that in 4:2). Now he had invested in Timothy as a disciple, treating him like a son in raising him up in the way of Christ Jesus. As a son to Paul, Timothy displayed the same kind of selfless love and concern for others that the Apostle himself demonstrated on numerous occasions. As a result, when the Apostle could not go to Philippi, he could send his proxy, his spiritual-son and his protege, Timothy. As the Apostle puts it:
"For I have no one like [Timothy], who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel." -Philippians 2:20-22 ESV
The sad truth is that most people serve only their own interests. The self comes before all others and looking out for the self trumps all other calls. People even go so far as rejecting the idea that self-serving motivations are wrong. The remedy to this, please note, is not to seek the interests of the other (though that is tempting). The solution to self-serving is not other-serving, or at least not generally so. The solution is to be Christ-centered and to seek his interests above one's own.
We are blessed to be able to serve Christ by serving one another. When the temptation to turn inward comes (and it will come), remember that it is Christ Jesus himself who turned out to serve us.
So how can we serve Christ today? A few thoughts:
  • Is there a young person you can invest in as a disciple like Paul did with Timothy? 
  • Are there people in your neighborhood, workplace or life in general who need help and have no one to help them? Wood that needs chopping? Walkways that need shoveling? An ear to listen? A moment of friendship in a self-centered world?
  • Who needs Jesus in your life? Pray and ask for God to bring someone to mind and then take the radical step of sharing the Gospel and why it matters.

News for You:

  • Christmas Eve service will be at 7 p.m. Bring a friend and help them connect with Jesus.
  • Christmas Day will see our regular service at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Commending Discipleship: Part One

Devotion: Philippians 2:19

Who in your life do you rely on? Surely, the Lord is the expected answer on a blog like this and to be sure it is true and correct to rely upon Jesus Christ. Yet, we also turn to others in trying times. The Apostle Paul relied upon Timothy in trying times in his life. Indeed as he longed to see the Philippians he wasted away imprisoned instead. His solution was to send Timothy on his behalf.
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you." -Philippians 2:19 ESV
The Apostle is careful to couch his intended plan in the Lord Jesus. We should be careful to do the same. Instead of making and declaring plans, we ought to state our hope if it should be the Lord's will, trusting that no matter should transpire, the Lord's will is done and the Lord is glorified. Even still, the Apostle's plan is a simple one. He cannot go to the Philippians, so he will send his most trusted lieutenant. In so doing, the Apostle is giving everyone involved a reason to rejoice. He will rejoice because his proxy, the young man he has discipled as if he was his own son, is representing him at Philippi. The Philippians can rejoice that they have received a visit from the Apostle's apprentice. The Apostle can rejoice that Timothy will return to him with news from the beloved Philippian congregation. And all can rejoice that the Lord's will has been done.
Two thoughts occur to me that I ask you, gentle reader, to carry with you this week:
  1. The Apostle Paul so thoroughly poured out his life in discipling Timothy that he could trust him to be his faithful representative. Who are discipling like that? Who are you raising up in the way of Christ Jesus that they may be a faithful witness of the truth of the Gospel? If you cannot think of someone, perhaps now is the time to begin to form a discipling relationship with someone in your life.
  2. How are you bringing the joy of the Lord to the lives of others? Do your fellow disciples rejoice when you come and do you rejoice in the fellowship of the saints? Pray and ask Christ Jesus to give you joy in his body, the Church.
We will continue exploring discipleship in coming weeks. For now, concentrate on the joy of Christ!

News for You:

  • Throughout the month of December we will be collecting canned goods (and donations) to help the needy in our community. Bring something to share a little bit of love this Advent season. 
  • Christmas Eve service will be held at 7 p.m. Please bring friend, family, and anyone else to worship our God!
  • Christmas Day service will be held at 10 a.m. Come out to dressed-down service of worship on the Lord's Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Shout Out:

A great big thank you to everyone who helped at the Youth Camp Gala. Over $2000 was raised to help send our teens to camp this summer!