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.
Sin is the exchange of good things for the ultimate thing: love of God and love for people. Although it can be difficult to admit, we all have a living and relentless sinful nature that drives us to wander from God’s created purpose of delight in Him and service for others. On this 4th Sunday of Advent the good news comes from an angel to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” In this message we celebrate how the arrival of Jesus provides salvation over the penalty, the power and eventually the presence of sin for those who believe in the One whose birth this angel announced.
Acts 4 picks up the story a few hours after the crippled man has been healed… Peter and John are arrested and detained for upsetting the peace with their “uneducated” teaching, and for convincing people to join the “Jesus is Lord” movement. For the first time, the apostles find themselves in the exact same place Jesus was just weeks prior: in front of the ruling religious council of their day, being strongly questioned. Previously, this environment was the catalyst for Peter’s cowardly denials of Jesus as he observed the hostility and authority of the council to put his master to death. However, in this “second chance,” Peter stays on offense, yet respectfully. Through his response to the council’s intimidation, he provides one of the strongest case studies in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people fully, into who they were created to be, in the image of Jesus himself.
When the Bible reports a miraculous healing it raises many questions. Why is there so much illness, disease and brokenness in our world? Does God heal today? What is our role in physical and other forms of restoration? Neither this text nor this message answer all the questions. Yet, it is clear that our exalted […]
Throughout the Bible Jesus is portrayed as The Good Shepherd. In this well-known Psalm, we see many of the benefits of following Christ including living with Him in Heaven for eternity. To receive the benefits, we must see ourselves in the proper perspective and follow Jesus, The Good Shepherd, wherever He leads us.
In this 3rd week of Advent we consider, “What is it we are waiting for?” In other words, what is God’s vision for the future? Jesus and the whole Bible reveal that God’s vision for the future is a second advent of Christ followed by a renewed cosmos free from destruction, racial division, injustice and everything else that disrupts the harmony that once existed in Eden. Once this picture becomes clearer a second question must be addressed, “In light of this hope, how shall we now live?” This week we hear God’s invitation for us is to participate in making earth look more like Heaven while we anticipate Christ’s 2nd advent after which He will make all things new.
Any look at “living out the gospel” is vastly incomplete without diving into the world of work. We often have a view of work that’s too self-centric: either we hold a defeatist view where we expect the worst and believe work is a natural evil to be endured until each successive Friday evening; or we […]
Having just spent 2 weeks on what it means to be messengers of the euangelion, we now turn to what it looks like to live out the gospel. Is it ever difficult for you to connect your life inside the church building to the life outside it? Do the truths you sing of in the […]
We as Christians often have a hard time sharing the “good news,” for a mix of 3 reasons: First, we’re not really that compelled; second, we’re afraid; and third, we don’t really know how. As ambassadors of God’s peace treaty with the world, we need to be sure we (1) understand its significance, (2) understand our cultural context, and (3) are equipped with a clear “reason for the hope that we have.” It turns out, our culture is very open to dialogue on spiritual things, and the lack of sharing has more to do with our own discomfort than a lack of opportunity. When we share “with gentleness and respect,” what follows can be a beautiful, engaging conversation with our neighbors. We have to get the shape of the gospel right. James Choung’s tool, Big Story, from his book True Story, gives us one example of a holistic Christian worldview that’s theologically grounded and starts with finding common ground with our culture, through drawing 4 simple circles.
What exactly is “Christian Mission”? When we talk about the whole church, taking the whole gospel, to the whole world, what do we mean? Often, Christians think evangelism is something other people do. But what is the origination of that word, and what, exactly, is the content of our “evangelism”? We need to be reminded of what Jesus himself declared to be “the gospel,” and how that understanding was clarified by Paul in his writings to the early church. We also need to understand our neighbors. When we have clarity about what it means to be an ambassador for Christ, and clarity about who we’re being an ambassador to, it will give us joy to share the good news in ways that truly “love our neighbor.”