Covenant Christian Reformed Church Welcome to the weekly podcast of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan. For more information, check out our website at http://www.covenant-crc.org

September 14, 2020  
September 7, 2020  
August 31, 2020  
August 24, 2020  
February 24, 2020  

THE CALL TO COMMUNITY
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #12)

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:21-26)

A. The Corinthian Church was a place of controlled chaos

1. Paul notes its membership: Jewish merchants, gypsies, Greeks,

prostitutes, and pagan idolaters

2. Paul notes their battles with schism, incest, greed, and the Lord’s Supper

B. Paul struggles with a basic question: “What is the Church?”

C. I wonder what metaphors Paul might use if he were writing today

1. The metaphor of the body has taken on additional depth and meaning:

our bodies are incredible; all systems work together as a unit

2. Alcoholics Anonymous involves compassionate listening, warm

responses, and hugs; participants are honest and transparent;

they are there for each other

3. At the Secretary of State’s Office, we’re forced to step outside our

small circle and realize there is a big world out there

4. Like a med-station, the Church should be open long hours, convenient

to find, willing to meet the needs of those who drop in because

life happens, and provide healing

THE FAMILY

A. If you begin reading in Genesis, you begin reading the history of families

1. History records the rise and fall of civilizations

2. The news reports the rise and fall of institutions

3. The Bible chronicles the rise and fall of families

B. Families work from a different paradigm

1. A family has the same Father - he gives the family its name and identity

2. Our “status” in God’s family: we are born (lit. adopted) into the family

a. An undeserving or underachieving child is not kicked out of the family

“There is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13)

b. Distinctions melt under the Son of God’s grace

3. Families are built on love and acceptance

“Families teach us how love exists in a realm beyond liking and disliking, co-existing with indifference, rivalry, and even antipathy.” (John Updike)

C. Imagine the Body of Christ as a family gathered around the dinner table

1. This extended family contains some successful individuals, some average

ones, and some who have failed to meet any of their potential

“Family is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” (Robert Frost)

2. God designed the nuclear family to prepare us to relate to others:

a. The family is the one institution we don’t get to choose

b. In the family, we’ll find people we like and who are unlikeable

“To dwell in love with saints above, Why, that will be glory. To dwell below with saints I know, well, that’s a different story.” (Anonymous)

“Community is a place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” (Henry Nouwen)

c. Families work best, not when they focus on differences, but celebrate them!

d. Families build up their weakest, smallest, and youngest members

“Which one of my children do I love the best, I love the sick one until he is well, the one away from home until she’s back.” (John Wesley’s mother)

3. To discern God’s will together, we need to listen together, live together,

love together, and listen together - so we can serve and glorify God together

CONCLUSION

A. Question: “Are we a community of Christ embracing those who come here?”

B. Question: “Are we a community of Christ embracing those who

live in this neighborhood?”

C. Question: “Are we Christ’s community? Is he living among us?”

February 24, 2020  
February 17, 2020  

A Rule for Life
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #11)
Acts 2:40-42

“The real issue is not these forces, it’s the ‘meltdown’ of Christian behavior; North American Christians are virtually indistinguishable from the world” (Os Guinness)

A. The church is facing a spiritual crisis

1. We need to get serious about our spiritual life!

2. Imagine we’re building or remodeling our spiritual “home” – the only

question is “How serious are we about actually moving in...?”

B. Deepening our walk with Jesus requires more than intellectual assent

1. We need a conscious, intentional, well thought out action plan

2. We need the discipline to follow it

“Athletes, musicians, writers, scientists, and others progress in their fields because they are well-disciplined people. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to think that in matters of faith we should pray, meditate, and engage in other spiritual disciplines only when we feel like it.” (William Paulsell cf. Rules for Prayer)

A RULE-DRIVEN LIFE

A. How do we arrange our life for what our heart most deeply desires?

1. Answer: we need an intentional rhythm - a set of habits

2. This is known as a “Rule of Life” (from the Greek for “trellis”)

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

B. Acts 2:41f tells what happened after Pentecost

“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

C. In Acts 3 we see Peter and John going to the temple...

1. They were following Jesus’ rhythm

2. When new believers came to “church” they needed to be trained

“Your way of acting should be different than the world’s way. The love of Christ must come before all else!” (St. Benedict)

D. These regulations (from regula) were habits that regulated their life

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
A RULE OF LIFE

A. Everyone has a “spiritual strategy” – it’s either intentional or unintentional,

helpful or harmful

“It is very unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner. There will be a need for some intentional commitment and some reorganization in our own lives. But there is nothing that will enrich our life more than a deeper and clearer perception of God’s presence in the routine of daily living.” (William Paulsell)

B. Writing your “Rule of Life”

1. It begins in silence, listening to God

2. Then, it involves developing a written pattern

3. Then reflect (ruminate) on it:
a. Is it personal? – Does it reflect who you are?
b. Is it practical? – Is it attainable?
c. Is it balanced? – Is it both comfortable and stretching?
d. Is it flexible? – Is it adaptable to changing circumstances?
e. Is it simple? - Is it easy/short enough to remember?

“My yoke [lit. rule] is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)

4. Then do it. Keeping the rhythm is most important!

C. If you love Jesus with all your heart, it is time to get off the log...

February 17, 2020  

The Only Way Home
(A Study of the Gospel of John; Message #58)
(Jesus on Discipleship #7)
John 14:4-6

A. Jesus is conversing with his disciples the night before his crucifixion

A MISUNDERSTANDING (14:4,5)

A. Thomas doesn't get it

B. Jesus tries to clarify things for Thomas: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”

1. About three years before, Thomas heard Jesus say, “Follow me”

2. When a disciple follows a rabbi, the destination is far less important

C. Jesus “way-knowing” is simply “Stick with me!”

A METAPHOR (14:6A)

A. Jesus is the master of metaphor

1. Listen carefully: “A metaphor is not literally true”

a. A metaphor both is and is not what it says

b. A metaphor is designed to stimulate our imagination; we can connect

the visible to the invisible and open up to transcendence

2. There is more to everything than what we can see or hear or touch

B. When we realize Jesus talks in metaphors, we can be more confused or

our understanding can expand exponentially

THE MESSAGE (4:6A)

A. Scripture talks about the Way throughout the Old Testament

“Walk in the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land...” (Deuteronomy 5:33)

“Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

“Teach me your way, O Lord.” (Psalm 27:11)

1. “I am the Way” suggests giving good counsel, being a personal guide,

leading us to the Father (and Home)

2. And...Jesus is life’s path and your ultimate destination

B. Scripture speaks about the Truth throughout the Old Testament

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11)

“Your love is ever before me, I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalm 26:3)

“I have chosen the way of truth...” (Psalm 119:30)

1. “I am the Truth” suggests telling the truth, being a truthful person,

and claiming to know the Truth

2. And...in a world of pluralism, Jesus is a Truth you can live your life by

C. Scripture speaks about the Life throughout the Old Testament

“The corrections of discipline are the way to life.” (Proverbs 6:23)

“He who heeds discipline shows the way to life...” (Proverbs 10:17)

“You have made known to me the path of life...” (Psalm 16:11)

1. “I am the Life” suggests he is alive, enjoying life, and winsome

2. And...Jesus reminds us, you can't have real Life without me

D. “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” is a metaphor for a single person: Jesus

THE MEANING (14:6B)

A. This is the scandal of the Gospel: there’s only one way of salvation; one

way to prepare for your home-going; one way to an untroubled heart

“Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is he the best of several ways; he is the only way.” (A.W. Tozer)

B. We should be thankful there is One Way home to the Father

1. To know the Way is available as a gift of God’s love is amazing grace!

“There is no other name (way) under heaven by which we can be saved - quench our eternal thirst” (Acts 4:12)

2. Do you long for home? Come to Jesus... There is no other way

February 10, 2020  

A Rhythm of Rest
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #10)
Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15

“Shabbat is, without question, the part of Judaism I miss the most. Sabbath shaped all our rhythms of calendar and time: the entire week revolved around Shabbat.
(Lauren Winner; Mudhouse Sabbath)

A. For most people, Sunday is anything but a day of rest

B. God has given us the gift of Sabbath and Jesus

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, I will give your rest”
(Matthew 11:28)

THE PROLEGOMENA OF SABBATH

A. The Sabbath is deeply imbedded in Creation

“God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2)

B. At Sinai, God placed Sabbath into Covenant

1. Exodus reads “Remember [zakhor] the Sabbath day and keep it holy [kadosh]”;

Deuteronomy reads “Observe [shamor, keep] the Sabbath day and keep it holy”

2. In Exodus (20:11) the basis for remembering Sabbath is Creation. In

Deuteronomy 5:15, we observe Sabbath to keep Covenant

3. Rabbis asked why Exodus says remember and Deuteronomy says observe

a. Answer: Sunday through Tuesday we remember the past Sabbath;

Wednesday through Friday we prepare to observe the coming Sabbath

b. Answer: all of life revolves around Sabbath

THE PURPOSE OF SABBATH

A. Sabbath is a way of ordering our lives around nurturing our soul

1. It is a way of keeping God in the center of our life (i.e., calendar)

2. It is a way of setting apart a time for worship

3. It is a way of balancing our life: work and rest

B. Sabbath is a way to honor the limits of our humanness

1. Sabbath reminds us we’re not in control or indispensible

When we cease interfering in the world we are acknowledging that it is God’s world.” (Lis Harris, Holy Days)

2. Sabbath reminds us we need rest, refreshment and replenishment

3. Sabbath reminds us to live within our limits
THE PRINCIPLES OF SABBATH

A. Stop! We stop on Sabbath because God is on the throne

1. We stop working. What constitutes work for us is what needs to stop!

2. We stop wanting - buying and selling, feeding our consumerism

3. We stop worrying. Worrying is emotionally and mentally exhausting

B. Rest! Once we stop, Sabbath calls us to rest like all our work is done

1. The invitation to rest is to focus on nurturing our soul

2. Whatever renews, refreshes, replenishes our soul, glorifies God and brings joy

C. Delight (cf. Isaiah 58:13-14) in God, in who he is and what he has done

1. God invites us to slow down, to be present to Him, to enjoy his creation

2. Don’t make Sabbath a weighty exercise; engage it with delight

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

D. Contemplation! We have the opportunity to practice his presence

1. We have the opportunity to worship and celebrate his holiness

2. We have the opportunity to taste our eternal Sabbath (cf. Rev. 22:4)

3. We give attention to intentionally restoring our soul

“Disentangle our mind from worldly cares and troubles... preparing our self for the coming Sunday with prayer...[and] retire to rest betimes so as to be punctual and sprightly at church the next morning.” (Friedrich Stark)

OUR PRACTICE OF SABBATH

A. Many have missed the (Sabbath) blessing

1. We seldom think about Jesus’ resurrection (or ours) – even on Sunday

2. We’ve lost the concept of rest; corporate worship has become optional

3. Churches increasingly plan “work” on Sunday for convenience

“The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)

B. Keeping the Sabbath rhythm, focusing on God; nurturing our souls is important

“There is something in the (original) Sabbath that is missing from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, the orientation of Sabbath is toward God.” (Lauren Winner)

1. Think of Sabbath as a “snow day” once a week

2. Accept his invitation to stop, rest, delight, and contemplate every week

C. We need time to “be still and know that he is God.” God has given us the time.

February 10, 2020  

Going Home
(A Study of the Gospel of John; Jesus on Discipleship #6)
John 14:1-3

A. How many people live as if the Christian Life is a retirement cruise?

1. If we sail unprepared, it’s in spite of God - not because of him

2. He has gone before us and offers to go with us

B. In these verses, Jesus promises to prepare us a place in his Father’s house

JESUS PROVIDES A PERSPECTIVE (14:1)

A. One of Jesus’ hardest commands is “Let not your hearts be troubled”

1. There seem to be incredibly good reasons for Jesus’ disciples to be troubled

2. It is okay to have and learn from our troubles, but then we need to move on

B. The antidote to a troubled “heart” is a trusting communion with the Father

and his Son

1. Trust develops over time in community through relationships

2. Jesus invites his disciples to deepen their communion with the Father...

C. John continues and notes reasons to foster and fortify our trust

1. Jesus “Dear little children” provided a note of divine affection (13:33)

2. Jesus’ “for now” keeps the door open for a “but later...” (13:36b)

3. “God” has a definite article. John : “Trust THE (Great) God” (14:1)

4. Jesus promises to return (after a physical absence): “I’ll come back” (14:3)

“I know that all of these hard realities are understandably very discouraging to you; but please, don’t let you hearts be too troubled; you can't trust your colleagues completely and, you know you can't even trust yourself completely; but please remember the living God in whom you can trust completely; and please remember me too, and my trustworthiness. Don’t give up on us. Don’t be too discouraged.” [Jesus]

JESUS PROVIDES A PLACE (14:2)

A. 14:2 - “There are many rooms in my Father’s house”

1. A house implies rest, safety, warmth, a place to belong

2. Your “Father’s House” is where your Father is...

B. The next sentence is a curious one: “I would tell you this if it were not true”

1. Why did Jesus say that? Jesus sees complacency, contentment, apathy

2. His statement confronts our complacency; gives this teaching urgency

C. Your Father is planning on you coming

D. This passage parallels the wedding customs of Jesus day...

1. First, there is a coming together of the bride and groom’s families

a. Promises are made; commitments are given; the dowry is paid

b. Then the groom returns home to prepare a place for his bride

c. When the place is prepared, the groom returns for his bride

2. First, they come together to make covenant (a cup of wine is exchanged);

the second time he comes to bring his bride home (with feasting)

3. The Bride’s home fades into the background; the Groom’s home comes

into view

JESUS PROVIDES A PREDECESSOR (14:2)

A. The New Testament has a great name for Jesus: “prodromos”

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul...it enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf” (Heb. 6:19-20)

“For those God foreknew...that [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many” (Rom. 8:29)

“He is the firstborn over all creation...the firstborn from among the dead” (Col. 1:15, 18)

B. We can go to heaven with a sense of confidence; Jesus is already there

JESUS PROVIDES A PROMISE (14:3)

A. Jesus describes his “leaving” as making preparations for “his own” (13:1)

1. He promises to go and prepare a place for us, to be the “transportation”

we need (cf. 14:6), and to personally accompany us

2. Jesus promises he is coming back. You can stake your life and eternity on it!

B. Fear strikes when one realizes death is near and they are unprepared

1. What matters to the Father is if he knows you...

2. It’s not what you have! It is who you know! Be prepared!

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