Friday, March 18, 2016

Palm Sunday, March 20th

Palm Sunday Worship will be a bilingual service in English and Spanish.  Join us at 10:30am.

Lesson 1:  Zechariah 9:9-10
Lesson 2:  Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel:  Luke 19:28-40
Sermon:  Psalm 24

Singing With the Exiles: Get Out! - March 6th

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Isaiah 48:17-22
God gave His people in Babylon the Book of Isaiah.  In it, the prophet sounds the alarm and tells God’s people to get out.  This city was like a house on fire.  God’s people were living in luxury and surrounded by many material blessings.  These things came at the expense of their spiritual security, however.  Babylon was a place where people were forced to give up their faith in God.  You may remember hearing about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—three men who believed in God.  They were thrown in a furnace of fire because they worshiped the true God.  That’s why Isaiah sounds the alarm and says, “Get out of Babylon!” It was a matter of life and death!
Just like the children of Israel, you and I want peace and prosperity.  We want things to go right for us at every time and in every way.  There are times when you and I, just like the people of God we hear about in the Book of Isaiah today, look for these things in places where God knows that we will never find them.  We live in luxurious homes, take extravagant vacations and lavish ourselves in ways that most people in the world would never dream of.  We live in a land of abundance...but would the Lord tell us to get out?  Have we been seeking peace in all the wrong places?  Do we find more peace in our money, our possessions, our vacations, our days off, our houses and homes than we do in the house of God and in His Word?  If that’s the case, it’s time you hear the Lord’s alarm: GET OUT!
The Lord does want us to have peace and He does want us to prosper.  He calls Himself our Teacher (“I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you what is best for you”) and wants to direct us in our search for these elusive blessings so that we might have them and enjoy them.  He makes it clear: we won’t find them among the wicked things of the world, we won’t find them in the illusions of the devil’s lies or in the mirages of Satan’s tricks, we won’t find them by looking at ourselves either.  We find these when we follow the Lord. 
Our God leads us even now through the deserts of our lives—when there is nothing that looks prosperous or luxurious at all.  Yet in these barren wastelands, He directs us in His paths.  In our rebellion against God, we forfeited our home in paradise, and now life is—in large part—a restless wandering, trying to find our way back home.  But thank God!  His program is to bring us back home.  He will accomplish this through Jesus, Who promises a luxurious, Heavenly home with Him!

Lesson 1:  Isaiah 48:17-22
Lesson 2:  1 Peter 5:6-11
Gospel:  Matthew 18:7-9

Friday, February 26, 2016

Singing With the Exiles: Breaking Down the Gates - February 28th

Message notes for a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Isaiah 45:1-8
Babylon was the city of paradise of its day.  The name “Babylon” means “gates of the gods” and this ancient city was given that name because the inhabitants believed that, when you stepped through the gates of Babylon, you were as close as you’d ever get to heaven on earth.  Renowned throughout the world for its beautiful hanging gardens and priceless works of art, Babylon was a wonder of the world in its own right.
Not only was the city known for its beauty, but it was also the stronghold of the mightiest military forces of its time.  Through military conquests, Nebuchadnezzar II would come to rule an empire that stretched from the Persian Gulf to the borders of Egypt.  He even captured Jerusalem—twice!—which led to the destruction of Israel’s temple and the deportation of many Jewish inhabitants to Babylonia. 
Hundreds of bronze gates were erected in and around Babylon, making it the world’s most fortified city.  Babylon was also surrounded by a series of walls, two of which enclosed the rectangular city.  The innermost wall was twenty-one feet thick and the outermost was eleven feet deep.  Three hundred and sixty watchtowers were on the walls every sixty to sixty-five feet.  A moat-like system in front of the outer wall hindered direct attacks on the city.  The Ishtar Gate opened up to a long processional way called “Aibur-Shabu” which means  “the enemy shall never pass.”
The children of Israel found themselves trapped behind these gates.  Their fate seemed certain behind the security of the walls of Babylon.  How could they escape from the mightiest army of the day?  It would take a miracle for an exiled people to leave the dungeons alive.  A miracle is exactly what they got as the Lord used His anointed, the pagan king Cyrus, to break down the gates of Babylon and rescue His captive children. 
The historical events predicted in Isaiah 45:1–3 unfolded as follows. In 539 BC, Cyrus, the Persian lord, surrounded the city of Babylon, and the pagan priests submitted and declared him Marduk’s chosen monarch. Then they opened up the city gates and allowed the Persians to walk in, proclaiming Israel’s freedom at the same time.  The Lord used Cyrus for three reasons: (1) so that Cyrus would know the Lord is his “Sponsor”; (2) so that Israel would benefit from the Persian’s military victories; and (3) so that all might know the Lord alone is God and there is no other.

Lesson 1:  Isaiah 45:1-8
Lesson 2:  2 Peter 3:8-13
Gospel:  Matthew 16:13-19

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Singing With the Exiles: Marked - February 21st

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Isaiah 44:1-5
We have been marked by many different things in our lives.  For some of us, we’ve had visible, identifying birthmarks on our bodies since the day we made an appearance into this world.  For others, it took a little bit more time but, eventually, many marks marred us.  Our own bodies have been battered and bruised and some of these incidences, like ink, have left a lasting mark on our flesh.  Scrapes and scratches have become scars on our skin.  Some try to cover these up with clothes or makeup.  Others will undergo surgery to try and make things look better.  But some marks simply can’t be removed. 
What’s even more frightening is to take a look at the marks that go deeper than the skin.  Our souls have been scarred over time as well.  Sin has left its mark on our bodies and no clothes or makeup or plastic surgery can cover it up.  Like a tattoo boldly emblazoned on a body our souls bear a single, brazen word: SINNER.  You are marked and you can’t remove this identity on your own. 
The children of Israel found themselves in a similar situation.  Marked by shame and scorn as rejects in their world—exiles from their homeland and outcasts in their new land—it seemed that they didn’t have a whole lot going for them.  Worse yet, they were marked in the same way with that awful word.; they, too, were sinners with indelible marks left on their souls.  That’s why God gave them the titles that He did. 
The name “Jeshurun” appears in our text today.  This title is linked with the verb “to be straight, upright.”  Jeshurun is parallel with Jacob in verse 2 of our text from Isaiah today. “Jacob” means “deceiver,” “liar,” or “trickster.” This suggests that God’s people are, at the same time, both saints (Jeshurun) and sinners (Jacob); we are both upright and crooked.  Those marked by sin were likewise marked for salvation.
The Lord took note of this sad situation and got some skin in the game.  By sending Jesus, the Son of God, a new identity is forged for us: “belonging to the Lord.”  He was marked to be our sacrifice, marked to bear the dreadful load of our sin, marked to become a curse, marked to be our Savior.  Jesus has born the stigma of our sin in His body and given us a bold, new identity: we are the Lord’s!

Lesson 1:  Isaiah 44:1-5
Lesson 2:  Hebrews 4:14-5:6
Gospel:  Matthew 9:9-13

Friday, February 12, 2016

Singing With the Exiles: We Are Worms! - February 14th

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Isaiah 41:14-16
Who would ever be want to be known as a worm?  They are slimy, yucky, creepy, crawly little creatures.  They’re certainly not highly regarded in the animal kingdom.  Worms are agents of The Lord’s judgment (Deuteronomy 28:39; Jonah 4:7) and vicious consumers of human remains (Isaiah 66:24). They are considered “detestable” in the Book of Leviticus (11:41–42) and the fallen king in Isaiah 14 is given maggots for a bed and worms for his covers (v. 11). David confesses to being under God’s judgment when he says, “But I am a worm and not a man” (Psalm 22:6). Our Lord quotes from Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) because He, too, was under the Father’s judgment, even though He had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Isaiah 41:14, God unmistakably gives that us.  We are worms!
God uses small people and small things to accomplish a great salvation. All Moses had was a wooden stick and this defeated his enemies. Gideon gained a great victory over 120,000 of his enemies with just 300 soldiers. Samson took the jawbone of a donkey and defeated over 1,000 Philistines. And a sling and a stone were all David needed to kill Goliath.
Jesus also uses small things and people to accomplish a great salvation. He used five loaves of barley bread and two small fish to feed five thousand men. The Savior once said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed . . . the smallest of all seeds” (Matthew 13:31–32). Passing through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus picked out little Zacchaeus and said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, [because this man] is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). And then these words, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
All of this points to the day when Christ’s enemies used thirty pieces of silver, a whip, a blindfold, a spear, their fists, and three nails. But these small and insignificant things were used by God to accomplish for us a great salvation! Through them we see God’s great love for us when Jesus died for us on the cross. And because of this, little and insignificant people like us—call us worms—will move mountains!

Lesson 1:  Isaiah 41:14-16
Lesson 2:  John 11:32-40
Gospel:  Hebrews 9:27,28

Friday, February 5, 2016

In a Dark World, Let the Gospel Shine! - February 7th

Message notes for a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on 2 Corinthians 3:7—4:2
For many of us growing up, darkness was probably the one thing that scared us the most. Perhaps we grew up with a nightlight in our rooms. Perhaps we wanted a light on in the hall outside of our bedroom. Perhaps we didn’t want to go into anyplace where we might find ourselves in darkness. It’s natural to be scared of the dark because darkness enshrouds dangerous things. We never quite know what just might be lurking in the shadows until light takes away all doubt. 
Being in spiritual darkness is far worse than being in physical darkness. In physical darkness, at least, there is some hope that eventually someone would turn on a light, provide a flashlight or take our hands and guide us to safety. There is no such earthly hope in spiritual darkness. The sinful mind is spiritually blind to the blessings of God and His Gospel. Those who are perishing are unable to see the good news of the Gospel.  Today we see how the Lord, in His Word, reveals to us His glorious Gospel and shows us how we can shine with the light of the Lord as well.
I. List some ways in which the Gospel Shows Christ’s Glory:

II. List some ways in which the Christian Tells Christ’s Story:

God called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  We go with Jesus’ glorious Gospel. Wherever the Gospel goes, lives will be illumined and souls saved!

Lesson 1:  Exodus 34:29-35
Lesson 2:  2 Corinthians 3:7-4:2
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jesus Is Love - January 31st

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Guenther based on 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
What did the Beatles say was all a person needs? What do you think they meant by that?
I. To Us Unloving Sinners
The Corinthians were all very gifted. But what was the problem with the way they were using those gifts?
How could the Corinthians be truly great?
What gifts has God given to you? To those in the pew around you?
Yet, how do we often misuse those gifts?
Try putting your name in the blanks. How well do you do?
_________ is patient, _________ is kind. _________ does not envy, _________ does not boast, _________ is not proud. _________ is not rude, _________ is not self-seeking, _________ is not easily angered, _________ keeps no record of wrongs. _________  does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. _________  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. _________ never fails.
And, of course, what do we deserve for the loveless way we misuse our gifts?
Try the exercise above but put Jesus’ name in the blanks. Rejoice in everything he did for you!
What does his great love for us move us to do for him?
II. Through Us Forgiven Believers
What completes all of the gifts we have in Christ?
Christ’s love for us moves us to love him. Our love for him moves us to love others. How?
Evaluate the gifts that God has given to you. How can you use those gifts, big or small, to serve others?
List some specific actions you will take this week to show your love for your Savior by showing love to others…
This week I will show love to __________ by…
This week I will show love to __________ by…
This week I will show love to __________ by…

Lesson 1:  1 Kings 17:7-16
Lesson 2:  1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Gospel:  Luke 4:20-32

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jesus Changes Things: Jesus Changes Broken Homes into Faith-Filled Families - January 24th

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Genesis 38:1-27
God has always intended that our homes be a little piece of Heaven on earth.  He wants our families to be a fertile ground for every good virtue as His children grow and nurture one another in their walk with the Lord.  But not every family is like that.  Not even believers in Christian homes can make the claim that every moment spent under our roofs has been Heavenly.  In many cases, our homes have been filled with brokenness and hurt where family members have wounded one another. But Jesus changes things.  He comes into our broken lives and broken homes to bring healing and restoration. Just take a look at the lives of a family from long ago!
Judah: the son of Jacob and brother of Joseph, he left his family to live by a friend of his.
Hiram: a man from Abdullam who was Judah’s best friend and companion.
Shua: Judah married the daughter of Shua and had three sons.
Tamar: She was the wife Judah found for Er.
Er: the firstborn son of Judah who was wicked so the Lord killed him.
Onan: Onan was the second born. According to custom, the deceased man’s brother was required to have children by the surviving wife if the man and the wife had not had children to carry on their line. Onan did not want to have a child by Tamar, since the child would not be his and probably because his inheritance from Judah would be lessened. So he kept Tamar from conceiving.
Shela: This was the youngest son of Judah. By custom, Judah should have given him to Tamar, but Judah didn’t because he was afraid for Shelah’s life.
This chapter contains details which probably would never have found their place in sacred Scripture had it not been to exhibit the full links of the chain that connects the genealogy of the Savior with Abraham.  The final part of the story provides the significance of the whole account. God gave Tamar twins, and the line of Judah continued because of her. The very same Judah mentioned in these verses is the forefather of Jesus Christ Himself.  In the disreputable character of the ancestry who figure in this passage, we have proof that Jesus made Himself nothing. Yet, He came into the world to change families like Judah’s and to change families like yours. 
As we examine the character profiles of this family, we are clearly shown by this story that Judah’s role in the ancestry of the Savior didn’t come because of his personal piety and sinlessness. The fact that the Savior was willing to count such people in His line shows that He came to save sinners like us.  The ancestors of the Savior were sinful and needed the same Savior we do

Lesson 1 - Genesis 38:1-27  
Lesson 2 - Colossians 3:17-25
Gospel - Matthew 10:34-42

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jesus Changes Things: Jesus Changes Enemies into Friends - January 17th

Message notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Genesis 45:1-15
Backstabbing.  Betrayal.  Jealousy.  Judgment.  Lies.  Deceit.  Trickery.  Treachery.  Hate.  Hurt.  Disapproval.  Disdain.  Rivalry.  Revenge.  Arrogance.  Anger.  Enemy.
Do you suppose Joseph meditated on these words during the two decades that he spent removed from his family and dead to them?  Joseph’s own brothers, his very flesh and blood, had treated him as their enemy.  He had every reason to be filled with anger and rage and to seek revenge.  He had every reason to go to war with them and seek their very lives.  Yet, the Joseph we meet up with in this lesson has been changed.  the results we see aren’t the impact of that well-known phrase: “time heals all wounds.”  His faith has lead him to forgiveness.  His hatred has been replaced with love.  What a beautiful spiritual lesson!  Joseph’s brother Judah thought that Joseph was actually dead (44:20), and therefore, that he himself was guilty of murder.  What he did not realize was that Joseph was alive—and was his savior!  His love for his brothers saved their lives.  What a picture of Jesus Christ!
How many of these qualities have we harbored in our hearts?  There have been people in our lives who have wounded us much like Joseph’s brothers.  In some cases, we have legitimate reasons to treat others like our enemies.  In others, we have no reason to justify the hate that we have held on to.  In the same way, there are people whom we have wounded, friends we have treated like enemies.  Jesus reveals the new attitude of merciful love His disciples will have towards everyone, whether or not they have been wronged.  May Jesus change our lives so that we can reveal to one another—enemies and friends alike—the forgiving love of Jesus!

Lesson 1:  Genesis 45:1-15a
Lesson 2:  Romans 12:9-21
Gospel:  Luke 6:27-36

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Jesus Changes Things: Jesus Changes Slaves to Sin into Sons of God - January 10th

Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Titus 3:3-8
Change can be one of the most challenging things we deal with in life.  Some changes are welcome.  From time to time, we like a change of routine or change in scenery.  Some changes can be either for the good or bad like a change in plans or a change in a relationship.  There are other changes that we seek to avoid at all costs.  The changes that can be especially difficult for us are the changes where we stand on the outside looking in; we don’t have a say in the matter. 
In our reading from Titus today, our God speaks to us of the changes He makes in our lives.  We were truly powerless to change ourselves—we were slaves to sin.  Trapped by the enemies of foolishness, disobedience, malice, passions, pleasures, envy and hatred, there was nothing we could do to escape on our own.  Our God had mercy on us and changed our lives for eternity. 
What a difference the kindness and love of God has made in us! God is the One Who effected the biggest change in our lives. He freed us from the chains of sin and the prison of hell and made us His children and heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. This means that today we can draw on His riches; and when He comes, we will share His wealth and His kingdom forever. 
Salvation came not only because of God’s kindness and love, but also because of His mercy. We did not save ourselves; He saved us. How did He do it? Through the miracle of a new birth, the work of the Holy Spirit of God. What is the result of this kindness, love, mercy, and grace? Hope! Our God gives you hope for today and hope for the future.  See how Jesus has changed your life forever!

Lesson 1:  1 Samuel 16:1-13
Lesson 2:  Titus 3:3-8
Gospel:  Luke 3:15-17