Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Going Deeper- Holy Spirit Part 1

The sermon for this topic can be found here.

Recently, we started a new series on the Holy Spirit, called Fill Me Up.

We looked at how in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was only given to a few people, and often only for a temporary period of time. However, we have the tremendous gift now that the Holy Spirit comes to us at the moment of salvation, and stays with us forever.

There is a great promise of this found in Ezekiel 36:25-27:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

God knows that we can’t follow Him and obey Him on our own strength. The solution to this problem isn’t more effort. It isn’t the power of positive thinking. We need a new heart and a new spirit. Our heart of stone will not break on its own; we need radical heart surgery.

God’s promise in Ezekiel has been fulfilled. When we come to Christ in faith, and accept His sacrifice for our sins, God exchanges our hard heart for one that is soft towards Him. He puts His Spirit within us and “causes” us to obey Him. What a phenomenal truth: God makes it possible for us to keep the commandments God has required of us.

Without the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we are hopeless and lost, hard-hearted and unclean. But with the Holy Spirit, and only by His power, we can be everything God wants us to be. Spend time praying for the Holy Spirit to be at work in your life today.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Going Deeper- Resurrection Day

The sermon for this topic can be found here.

Recently, we celebrated the biggest event in human history: the resurrection of Jesus. The first Christians began meeting regularly to celebrate “Resurrection Day”, eventually moving their weekly day of worship from Saturday (the traditional Sabbath) to Sunday, in order to correspond with the day Jesus rose (“the first day of the week”).

That means that every Sunday is a chance to get together and celebrate the resurrection, it’s not just something we do on Easter. Every Sunday is an opportunity to set the concerns of life aside and meet with the risen Christ.

It’s very easy to focus on ourselves at church. Did I like the experience? Did they play music I like? Is that lousy preacher ever going to end so I can get on with my day?

But that’s not why we gather together as a church. The goal is to focus on Jesus: to celebrate Him in worship, to remember Him in communion, to learn from Him through His word. So the next time you’re in church (hopefully this Sunday), take time to remember that the resurrection is still real, and Jesus is alive and present. And the more we focus on Him, the better it is for us anyway.

It reminds me of a song I used to sing growing up-
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Going Deeper- Good Friday

Each week, we're sending out an email with a weekly devotional thought taken from the previous week's sermon. I thought it would be fun to post them here for everyone to see. This was from a couple weeks ago. We'll get caught up soon...

Last Sunday, we looked briefly at one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

This verse is about a trade. We put our old, sinful life on the cross and swap it for a new one. And this new one is lived by faith and in devotion to Christ; this is called Lordship. It means we relinquish control, and live by His power and guidance. We are good at seeing Jesus as a Savior, but sometimes it’s difficult to see Him as our Lord.

Most of us are experts at compartmentalization. We order our lives like a TV dinner. In one part of the tray, there’s family; in another, there’s work; in another, we might put our hobbies. Jesus gets His compartment, too, because we want to be good Christians. The problem is that Jesus doesn’t stay confined very well. He likes to pour into the other compartments, sometimes when we’re not ready for Him.

No, the Christian life is not like a TV dinner at all. It’s more like stew. Everything is in the same bowl, everything’s touching, and it’s all covered by the same broth, which flavors everything. Jesus wants to flavor everything in our lives. After all, He didn’t give 100% of himself to get 40% from us.

So how much of your life does Jesus have?

The sermon for this topic can be found here.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Going Deeper- Communion

Each week, we're sending out an email with a weekly devotional thought taken from the previous week's sermon. I thought it would be fun to post them here for everyone to see. This was from a couple weeks ago. We'll get caught up soon...

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul has some instruction for the Corinthian church about Communion. He mentions that their meetings “do more harm than good” (v. 17). I think the harm he refers to is harm to themselves, since he says in verse 30 that an unexamined heart towards God in Communion is the reason some people in Corinth have died!

He mentions two things in particular that should never be mixed with Communion: Division and Selfishness.

Division in the church grieves God more than almost anything else. Division happens because of unforgiveness. Someone doesn’t meet our expectations about something, and we hold it against him or her. Before long, we’re telling others about it. And pretty soon, the focus is on bad blood between people instead of on Christ’s blood for us. May God help us to keep short accounts with one another and to be quick to show grace to one another; especially when we come together to celebrate God’s grace towards us.

In the first century, church services were often based on a full meal together. The Corinthians were putting their gluttony over the needs of others. In our day, selfishness manifests itself in other ways, but it is just as destructive. We are selfish in our commitments (we keep them when we feel like it), in our conversations (we listen when we feel like it), and in our attitude towards God (we obey Him when we feel like it). I know I have those tendencies and I hate it. Communion is a perfect time to lay that selfishness on the altar and put Jesus first.

Paul concludes that we need to examine ourselves before taking Communion. So this week spend time reflecting on your love for God and your love for others. Are they were they need to be? What do you need to confess or forgive to have your heart in a right place before God?

The sermon for this topic can be found here.