Friday, July 31, 2015

Jesus' Love Is Big Enough for You, August 2nd

Lesson 1:  Exodus 34:5-7
Lesson 2 and Sermon Text:  Ephesians 3:14-21
Gospel:  John 3:16-21

Sunday we will have our worship service outside.  This service will be attended by our brothers and sisters from the Hispanic and Hmong congregations and will be held on the grounds of the church.  Join us for a picnic following the service.  Please bring a dish to share.   We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jesus is Our Peace - July 26, 2015

Ephesians: United in Christ
Message notes by Pastor Ewings based on his sermon from Ephesians 2:13-22

Peace is such a hard word to define. While the dictionary might try with phrases such as “freedom from disturbance” or “freedom from or the cessation of war or violence,” these secular concepts don’t give us the whole picture.  The Lord uses numerous passages to describe and define what peace is in His eyes.  Take a look at a few examples:
“I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, only turmoil.” —Job 3:26
“Great peace have they who love your law.” —Psalm 119:165
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace.” —Isaiah 32:17
“The peace of God...transcends all understanding.” —Philippians 4:7
The ancient prophets spoke concerning Christ as the One Who would bring peace.  Isaiah called Him the Prince of Peace. Micah described the ruler of Israel who was to come out of Bethlehem as the One Who would bring and be peace. The angels above the fields of Bethlehem sang of peace on earth among the people of God’s good pleasure.  But this passage tells us more.
In the text before us today, we see what might be the clearest, most concise definition of peace in the whole Bible; Paul writes, “He Himself is our peace.” That “He” is Jesus—the One person Who destroys everything that separates and divides, Who brings all things together as one united church.
We can seek to define peace in many ways, and our lives demonstrate just how difficult it is to come to a true definition.  We seek out peace through work and rest, by getting outdoors as well as seeking the refuge of our home, by going full throttle as well as being a couch potato. We truly live at peace when we learn to define it just like Paul does: Jesus is our peace. 

First Lesson:  Numbers 27:12-23
Second Lesson:  Ephesians 2:13-22
Gospel:  Mark 6:30-34

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We Are a Church Chosen by Christ for Christ, July 19, 2015

Ephesians: United in Christ
Message notes from Pastor Ewings for his sermon based on Ephesians 1:3-14

Predestination:  ____________________________________________________ 

We all want to be wanted, we all need to be needed and we crave to be chosen. Every individual feels a deep-seated desire to belong.  Our Triune God gives the blessed assurance to each and every believer that we belong to Him in Christ.  Paul writes, “He chose us in Him,” “He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ,” “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined,” and “You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”
These words are at the heart of the verses before us today.  Sometimes people will avoid the teaching of predestination because we have difficulty understanding some parts of it.  Yet it is one of the most comforting of all the Bible’s teachings, as it says that we’re saved by God’s grace alone and that our salvation lies in His hands. Because of this, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
The Christian can have this confidence because of Christ Jesus: before the world was born, God set His heart on having me as His Own forever.  Not only did He determine to embrace every human being by the redeeming death of His Son, He also selected me personally and individually in Christ before time began.  He chose me, not because I was holy and blameless, but that I might be holy and blameless before Him.  The entire world can condemn me, the devil may accuse me, and my own conscience convict me.  But God has determined that—in Christ—I am holy and blameless before Him.  No other verdict matters. In these words I find a place where I can lose a guilty conscience, where I can build a new life.  This is the confidence that our Triune God gives to His Church: we were chosen in Christ for Christ!

First Lesson:  Amos 7:10-17
Second Lesson:  Ephesians 1:3-14
The Gospel:  Mark 6:7-13

Thursday, July 9, 2015

God Even Makes Christians Uncomfortable

Pastor's Message Notes for the July 12th sermon based on 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
We spend so much of our lives trying to get comfortable.  We love for things to feel just right—not too hot, not too cold; not too big, not too small; not too hard, not too soft—yes, we want things to be “just right.”  We spend thousands of dollars each year to make sure that our homes are at a comfortable temperature with all the commodities we need.  We like to wear clothes that fit just right, without restricting our movement or weighing us down; we like to be comfortable.  From our very first beds, and even to our very last, we like to lie down on what is plush, posh, pillowy and, yes, comfortable.  We spend so much of our lives getting comfortable. 
The reason why we try so hard to get comfortable in life is because so much of life is uncomfortable.  There are different aches and pains that come with every stage of life.  From the heart-wrenching cries of the infant to the heart-broken sigh of the teenager to the heart-stopping gasp of the aged, our lives are filled with pain.  We fight back that pain with every heartbeat and breath, all to be comfortable.  Our basic instinct is to avoid pain at all costs. If we were left to ourselves, our sinful nature would choose pleasure over pain each and every time; we’d choose to be comfortable.
The funny thing is, God doesn’t always want people to be comfortable.  In fact, quite often He wants the lives of His people to be uncomfortable.  Paul learned that lesson firsthand.  The Lord gave Paul “a thorn in the flesh,” what he called “a messenger of Satan,” to torment him.  God had a special purpose with that pain: to keep the Apostle from pride.  Paul felt the sharp sting of the thorns so acutely that it drove him to his knees and to his God three times.  Three times he pleaded with the Lord to pluck those thorns out, yet the Lord had but one, lone, solitary answer:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
There are times when we put our own comforts ahead of God’s will and He teaches an important lesson, how ever painful it may be: it is only when we despair of our own strength that we find God’s strength. It is only when we realize just how shocking our weakness is that we learn to trust the power of God.  It is then, and only then, that we learn the truth Paul did: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

First Lesson:  Ezekiel 2:1-3:4
Second Lesson:  2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Gospel:  Mark 6:1-6