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

February 24, 2020  

(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


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


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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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


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. 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


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)


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


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

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)


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


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]


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


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

“We have this hope as an anchor for the 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


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!

February 3, 2020  

Listening For God
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #9)
John 8:42-47

A. Prayer is central, assumptive, and normative in the Christian Life

B. In discerning God’s will, prayer is absolutely essential

The Principles

“The best method of prayer is to have no method at all.” (St. Francis deSales)

A. Principle One: The best way to learn to pray is ... to pray

B. Principle Two: Prayer is primarily about our relationship with God

1. Prayer is not about getting stuff, problem solving or seeking guidance

2. Prayer is about experiencing more of God’s presence

C. Principle Three: We don’t really know much about prayer

1. We are consciously stepping into the presence of the God of the universe!

2. We tend to focus on the mechanics and methods of prayer

D. Principle Four: Prayer is hard work; it takes time

1. We wonder whether all the effort will be worth it

2. We join the disciples and ask, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)

E. Principle Five: Prayer is a gift from God

F. Everything you need to know about now know

The Presuppositions

A. Four parts of prayer: God speaks, we listen; we speak, God listens

B. God speaks

1. God brought the universe into existence by His spoken Word

2. In the Garden, Adam and Eve talked with God and God talked with them

3. Moses learned to hear God’s voice and obey his command

“You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)

4. God sent prophets to speak for him

5. Then Jesus came speaking

“I am the Good shepherd; my sheep know my voice” (John 10:4)

6. In Acts 1:1f; Luke indicates that after his ascension, Jesus continues “to do

and to teach” through His Spirit

7. Good news: God hasn’t stopped speaking. Bad news: most people have

stopped listening

“He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47)

“The sheep follow him because they know his voice…” (John 10:4)

“They too will listen to my voice…” (John 10:16)

C. We need to listen

1. Few people hear an outward recordable voice

2. Most often God speaks in a whisper deep in our heart

3. Listening is a crucial element in our relationship with Jesus

“Jesus Christ is alive and here to teach his people himself. His voice is not hard to hear; his vocabulary is not difficult to understand. But learning to listen well and to hear correctly is no small task.” (Richard Foster)

4. The Christian faith is hearing the voice of God and doing it

5. What are you listening for? When was the last time you heard God speak?

The Practice

A. Most often, God speaks in common promptings...

1. Then, we have a small window to respond

2. The goal is to carry a listening “ear” with us through our day

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persona are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees at the blessed sacrament.” (Brother Lawrence)

“God does not cease speaking, but the noise of the creatures without, and of our passion within, deafens us, and stops our hearing. We must silence every creature; we must silence ourselves, to hear in the deep hush of the whole soul, the ineffable voice of the spouse. We must bend the ear, because it is a gentle and delicate voice, only heard by those who no longer hear anything else.” (Francois Fenelon)

B. Ask God to speak to you. Practice Listening! Keep practicing!

C. The voice of God is heard by those who no longer listen for anything else

February 3, 2020  

Pausing to Pray
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #8)
(Mark 1:35)

“We tend to think of prayer as something we do in order to produce the results we believe are needed or, rather, to get God to produce the results. Go to any Christian bookstore and note the number of books devoted to techniques of prayer. We are interested in knowing what works and developing skills that will ensure that our prayers are effective. As a result our prayers tend to be a shopping list of things to be accomplished, an attempt to manipulate the symptoms of our lives without really entering into a deep, vital, transforming relationship with God.” (Robert Mulholland)

A. Most believers have a genuine desire to pray...

B. That’s why most of us became a Christian - to spend eternity with God


A. Prayer is typically defined as talking to God, contemplative prayer is

best defined as being with God

“Our chief end is to glorify and enjoy God forever” (Westminster Catechism)

B. Why is contemplative prayer important?

1. First, we are expected to pray

2. Second, it’s about the relationship; it’s about just being together


A. In the very heart of God is a deep desire to be in fellowship with us...

1. God longs to hear from us; God longs to speak to us; God longs to be with us

2. In the heart of a believer is the deep desire to fellowship with God

B. God Speaks

“You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)

1. Jesus’ constantly withdrew to spend time with His Father (Mark 1:35)

2. Good news: God hasn’t stopped speaking

C. We need to listen

1. Listening takes time; God is never in a hurry

“Because I am a Christian” (Dietrich Bonheoffer)

2. Consciously being in God’s presence will transform us into better disciples


A. We are not trained to just “be” with God
B. So what should we do?

1. Don’t be too hard on yourselves

“The first thing to remember is not to get impatient with yourself. Do not cramp yourself in despair at the wandering of your thoughts. Just sit down each day and wait patently. If your thoughts keep running away, do not attempt to restrict them. It is no bother to let them run on to their destination; then, however, take up the place or the person to whom they have strayed into your prayers. In this way you will find yourself back at the text, and the minutes of such digressions will not be wasted and will not trouble you.” (Dietrich Bonheoffer)

2. Try to identify the source of the distractions

3. Prepare for your prayer time by first slowing down

4. Use your imagination

5. Keep paper/pencil nearby; Journal

C. How does one distinguish God’s voice from other voices?

“Certain factors distinguish the voice of God just as any human voice can be distinguished from another.” (Dallas Willard)

1. First, the quality of God’s voice

“The quality of God’s voice is more a matter of weight or impact an impression makes on our circumstances. A certain steady and calm force on which communications from God impacts our soul, our innermost being, incline us toward assent and even toward compliance.” (Dallas Willard)

“The inner voice of God does not argue or try to convince you. It just speaks and it is self-authenticating.” (E. Stanley Jones)

2. Second, the spirit of God’s voice

“God’s voice is a spirit of peacefulness and confidence, or joy, of sweet reasonableness and of Good will. It is, in short, the spirit of Jesus” (Dallas Willard)

“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality.” (James 3:17)

3. Third, the content of God’s voice

“A word that is truly from God will always conform to and be consistent with the truths about God’s nature and kingdom that are made clear in the Bible.” (Dallas Willard)

D. A word of challenge and encouragement:

1. Make time. God desires it. You require it

2. Slow Down. Don’t run into his presence. Don’t hurry out of his presence

3. Slip consciously onto God’s lap every day

4. God loves it too!

February 3, 2020  

The Glory and Misery of Discipleship
(A Study of the Gospel of John)
John 13:31-38

A. This is the beginning of Jesus’ Closing Discourse - John 14-16

1. Jesus explains the significance and implications of his greatest deeds - i.e., his

death and his resurrection

“[This] is one of the greatest compositions in literature...because the one who speaks here speaks as no human being has ever spoken” (Raymond Brown)

2. What happens before, during and immediately after “this weekend” will

determine human time as no other event since creation

B. Jesus gives his disciples a heads up on the glory and misery of following him


A. When Judas left, Jesus knew his Father had commenced his final work

1. Jesus says, “Now...” as if his work is already done (“the prophetic perfect”)

2. Jesus gives himself the title, “Son of Man” (cf. Daniel 7:13-14)

3. “Glorified”, from the root “doxa” (doxology), means praise and honor

B. John (always) speaks of Jesus’ cross as glorification (cf. 7:39; 11:4, 53; 12:16, 23-24; 28; 13:31-32; 14:13; 17:1, 4-5)

1. In his death and rising we see the depth and height of God’s love for His world

2. Love always costs something! God’s love cost Jesus his life

“There is not greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13b)

C. Amazing glorification will occur the coming weekend -

1. The glorification of the Father by his Son on the cross

2. The glorification of the Son by his Father in the resurrection

3. The glorification of his disciples by the Father and Son’s love them for them


A. This is a “sad” verse following Jesus’ teaching of his glorification

1. Is Jesus saying even disciples don’t “automatically” get into heaven?

2. Is Jesus saying there’s no cheap “God is love and we all get in” universalism?

3. Is Jesus reminding us that any and all access to the Father is by grace alone?

B. Thankfully this verse has an affectionate greeting: “Dear little children...”

1. Wasn’t the whole purpose of our discipleship to follow you?

2. Jesus concludes this teaching with “for now”- changing hopeless into hopeful

a. Without the cross (19:30), his resurrection (20:22), the gift of his Spirit,

and the gift of faith - we are all hopeless (including Jesus’ disciples)

b. Even “now”, we are deeply needy human beings who need to “listen up”


A. The lived-out love of Christians for one another has the single greatest

missionary impact on the world

1. This love doesn't come from the disciples; it comes from Christ’s love

“Have a heart for one another out of the well of my heart for you” (13:34; Bruner)

2. Jesus’ disciples, by definition, have this “resource” - Jesus’ continual love

B. This love is, first, for fellow disciples, for His Church

1. When Christians live affectionately with other Christians, they make

a deep impact on each other and on the world

2. We think the world doesn't notice; they do

3. Jesus is inviting (commanding!) His Church to love one another...

4. Church loyalty is almost as important as loyalty to Christ himself

C. Our love for each other is an essential part of world mission


A. Peter doesn't understand why he has to wait when he is ready “now!”

1. Peter says he’s ready to “lay down his [whole] life” for Jesus

2. This error has had a long and disastrous history for people and the Church

3. Jesus: “You’re going to lay down you’re life for me?”

B. Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denials reminds us not to take glory in our position

1. It is not about us. Who lays down whose life for whom in the Christian faith?

2. Our vanity, ego, and self-centeredness can lead us to think we’re fully devoted to Jesus, ready to lay our life down for him and earn our “forever”

C. Jesus gives us a great model of great loving...

1. He challenges us to emulate him; he challenges us to be His Church

2. And when we build it..., they will come

February 3, 2020  

Engaging the Scriptures
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #7)
Psalm 19:7-11

A. John Wesley prayed to be a “homo unius libri” (i.e., “a man of one book.”)

“The secret to life is pursing one thing.” (Jack Palance)

“Seek believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind...” (cf. James 1:5-8) (Soren Kirkegaard)

B. As disciples, we’ve committed to pursuing a relationship with Jesus

“ transformed by the renewing of your mind...” (Romans 12:2)

“...being transformed into his image...” (1 Corinthians 3:18)

“It means that we will think, speak, meditate, and do all things with a view to God’s glory.” (John Calvin)

“The words that bombard us all day long from billboards and tabloids and talk shows pull us in a thousand directions, but the Word God speaks to us from His Word can renew our minds.” (John Ortberg)


A. We tend to study the Scripture like we study a textbook - for information

“...let the Word of God dwell richly in us.” (Colossians 3:16)

B. We need to care of our soul...or eventually it will wither and die

1. The problem is less methodology and more motivation

2. Transformation is fundamentally a heart issue. Do I really want Jesus?


A. Make time to meet God in the Scripture

There should be a daily time set apart for the disciplined reading of Scripture; at the optimum point of our day, when we are at our best, set apart physically in surroundings that are conducive to opening our lives to God; and set apart internally from the pressures and tensions of our lives. (John Wesley)

We simply need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time, time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning, a day, a week, a month or whatever period of time for God and him alone. This asks for much discipline and risk taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and “just sitting there” and “doing nothing” often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning we often hear our own unruly noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is at times hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness or ourselves and God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.” (Henri Nouwen)

B. Begin with a prayerful, humble, obedient spirit
1. Ask God to meet you in Scripture

“I had no wish to read further; there was no was as though my heart was filled with a light of confidence and all the shadows of my doubt were swept away.” (Augustine)

2. Read with a readiness to surrender everything

C. Read a brief passage; read it slowly; read it out loud; read it repeatedly

“If you read it quickly, it will benefit you little. You will be like a bee that merely skims the surface of a flower. Instead, in this new way of reading with prayer, you must become as the bee who penetrates the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar.” (Mdame Guyon)

“Contemplative reading of the holy scriptures and silent time in the presence of God belong closely together. The word of God draws us into silence; silence makes us attentive to God’s word. The word of God penetrates through the thick of human verbosity to the silent center of our heart; silence opens in us that space where the word can be heard. Without reading the word, silence becomes stale, and without silence, the word loses its re-creative power. The word leads to silence and silence to the word. The word is born in silence, and silence is the deepest response to the word.” (Henri Nouwen)

1. Read Scripture as a love letter: Psalm 19:7-11 (The Message)

The revelation of God is whole, pulling our lives together
The signposts of God are clear, pointing out the right road
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate, down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.

 Reading One – Listen for a word or phrase the Spirit brings to mind

 Reading Two – Reflect on the word; what is God saying to me?

 Reading Three –Respond to this Word; Pray it back to God

 Reading Four – Relate this word to your life today; Rest

2. This process is known as lectio divina (divine reading)

D. Reflect on this word throughout your day

E. Integrate your experience into your life

1. Goal is not for us to get into the Word but to get the Word into us

2. If there is no change, no transformation has occurred

3. The more time we spend with Jesus in his Word, the more his love transforms



January 7, 2020  

Examining Ourselves
Psalm 19:12-14
(Discovering God’s Will Together; #5)

“But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12-14)

“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

“The awareness of sin used to be our shadow. Christians hated sin, feared it, fled from it, grieve over it. A man who lost his temper his temper might wonder if he should still go to holy communion. Our new language fudges: I’d just like to share that we just need to target holiness as a growth area.” Where sin is concerned, people just mumble now.”
(Neal Plantinga)


A. If we are serious about Jesus, we’ll do anything to look more like Him

“Search me, God, and know my heart; Test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

“Examination of the world without is never as personally painful as examination of the world within . . . yet when one is dedicated to the truth, this pain seems relatively unimportant.” (M. Scott Peck)

B. “Spiritual examination” is bringing my whole self before God

1. This involves examination (naming our sin), confessing (owning our sin),

repenting (grieving the sin), seeking forgiveness (reconciling with the offended)

restoring (redeeming the offense), and being transformed (avoiding future sin)

“The knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him.” (John Calvin)

2. Only through self-examination can we hope to grow closer to God


A. The first truth is “God loves you!”

B. The second truth is “We are broken people”

C. The third truth is “We cannot fix ourselves”

D. The fourth truth is examination/confession is a communal discipline

E. The fifth truth is God’s grace is sufficient

“If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)


A. We all have a false self and a true self
1. The false self is ego centric, guided by what we want others to think

2. The true self is focused on being the person God made and called us to be

B. There are some traditional methods of self-examination:

1. Beatitudes (Eastern Orthodox Christians)

2. Lord’s Prayer (Roman Catholics)

3. Ten Commandments (Protestants)

4. Seven deadly sins

5. Twelve Step program

6. Awareness Examen: The examen of conscience (The Psalm 139 prayer) and

the examen of consciousness – the search for God in our day

[Jacob] “Surely the Lord was in this place and I knew it not.” (Genesis 28:16)

C. An Examination (True or False)
1. ___I say “yes” when I sometimes mean “no.”
2. ___I get depressed when people are unhappy with something I did
3. ___I need to have other’s approval in order to feel good about myself.
4. ___I act nice on the outside even with people “I can’t stand!” on the inside
5. ___I often remain silent in order to “keep the peace.”
6. ___I believe that if I make mistakes, I am a failure.
7. ___I criticized others in order to feel better about myself.
8. ___I try to avoid looking weak or foolish if I don’t have the answer.
9. ___I have to be doing something exceptional to feel significant
10. ___I have to be needed to feel confident
11. ___I tend to be fearful and don’t like to take risks.
12. ___I often do what others want so they won’t get mad at me
13. ___I use knowledge and competence to cover my feelings of inadequacy
14. ___I want my children to behave so others will think I am a good parent
15. ___I often compare myself to other people


A. Our examen must lead us to God

B. Our examen must lead us to confide in someone else

“...confess your sins to one another and pray for one another...” (James 5:16)

C. Our examen must lead us to confess to the one we sinned against

D. Our examen must lead us to reconcile with community

E. Our examen must lead to appropriate change


A. God is calling us to be a community that confesses its frail humanity

B. Make time for self-examination and confession

C. Find a trusted companion or two who will hold you accountable

D. Be Courageous. Be Obedient. God is not through with you yet!

E. Never forget. God’s grace is sufficient. By grace we are saved!

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