The 3rd verse of Joy to the World is probably the least known verse. Often when we sing the song, it’s left out altogether. Verse 3 is distinct from the other verses because it doesn’t take its inspiration from Psalm 98, but rather Genesis 3 – the curse. But it does take the form of a Psalm: the first 2 lines are a plea to God Himself, and the second 2 lines are a promise from God to His people. What is your plea to God today? And what is His promise, into that plea? In this world we will have troubles, but take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. And that is cause for true joy.
Often we begin our careers with high aspirations and hopes, but “reality” often collides with our dreams. The early disciples – who witnessed their Master die on a cross – must have felt the same: a crushing disappointment. Yet, as the early church remembered Jesus’s death and resurrection with wine and bread, the eucharist, their suffering was transformed into words and deeds that gave life to their neighbors. In this message, Jeff Haanen shows how our daily work can be transformed in light of Jesus’s gift of His body “for the life of the world.”
The Prodigal Son just may be the best short story ever told. It’s incredibly concise, yet has both deep sorrow and joy in the midst of scandal and strained relationships. As we look at each of the story’s three characters in succession, it’s obvious that the one thing even more extravagant than the younger son’s self-indulgence, is the Father’s self-sacrificing love. Yet it’s all lost on the older son at the end […]
In our journey through The Story, this week’s chapter about Solomon is entitled, “The King who had it All.” Solomon did have it all the moment He began his relationship with God because Solomon had God. In addition, God blessed him to overflowing in the years that followed. Like the appetite of a glutton and the cravings of a drunkard the heart of man is never satisfied. Most of us spend years chasing pleasures that were never meant to be our portion. It appears that at the end of Solomon’s life he finally realized that God is enough. Do not waste another day another day of your life – God is enough!
There are many beautiful examples of peace coming at times of crisis in our world: two of them are the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the life of Nelson Mandela. But peace in this world tends to be temporary and incomplete, and it leaves us longing for something more lasting and whole. Humanity continues to be rocked by violence and we continue to be cynical of the word “peace.” The beauty of Christmas is that Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace, to bring peace that is “not of this world.” We are given Him to receive lasting peace, and we can become transmitters of His peace when we receive it.
Most of us feel a little uncomfortable when we hear the word “obedience”: it conjures up feelings and/or memories of punishment and pain, or a long list of “shoulds.” Samuel and Saul are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to obeying God. Their juxtaposition provides an avenue into seeing what God is really after when He asks His people to listen to Him, wait for Him, and walk humbly with Him.
Loss is hard, especially when we lose someone or something we love dearly. In this message from the book of Ruth we meet Naomi and Ruth who combined have had many losses: death of their husbands, death of children, loss of homelands, moving from familiar childhood cultures and so much more. How do you respond when you’ve lost so much? These women chose to honor God and remain kind to people. As a result, God blessed them by including them in His vision to bless the world. The good news is that God desires to do the same for all of His children who walk faithfully through unexplainable loss.
Some days are prosperous. Some days are adverse. Joseph’s life, like ours, was filled with ups and downs. What was it that enabled Joseph to walk with God and honor God whether he was in the palace or the pit? He consistently lived with and walked with God. For all who walk with God there is great hope that He can use us, in ways that we might never expect, to advance His vision to make earth look more like heaven.
God made a promise to make Abram into a great nation through whom He would bless all nations. While Abram and his wife, Sarah, had to wait many years, God kept His promise. In this message we discover God’s vision for the world as well as His commitment to use ordinary people like us in order to fulfill that vision.