Sunday Service Follow Up: 09.08.19

Sunday Service Follow Up – 09.08.19

This past Sunday we began a new series in 1 Corinthians 1-2, “Being A Gospel-Centered Community”. Tab kicked off this series introducing the book to us and explaining why we’re looking at this passage in particular before turning to 1 Corinthians 1:1-3. In these verses Tab called us to become who we already are in Christ as he showed us how it was the Corinthians’ positional sanctification that would give them hope and enable them to become progressively sanctified, become more like Christ.

Below you will find questions to help you respond to God’s word with your hearts and your lives, so that you might become more like Christ.

Discussion and Response Questions

Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 and consider the questions below:

– In verse 2 Paul tells us that we have a new identity, “we have been sanctified”, what does this mean? What impact should this have for how we think about ourselves? How can we help each other live into this identity?

– Verse 2 highlights our calling, we’re to be saints. What does this mean? In what ways are you aware that you’re not living in line with this calling? How does your new identity shape your calling?

– What specific areas of your life are you currently feeling or are tempted to feel hopeless for change? In what ways does this passage (esp. our identity in vs. 2) give you hope or faith for change – and how can we help?

Sunday Service Preparations: 09.08.19

09.01.19
The goal of this post is to help you prayerfully and thoughtfully prepare for gathering together as the church this Sunday. Take some time to read the selected sermon text, listen to some of the songs, and pray for the pastor and those who will gather.

SERMON TOPIC
Being a Gospel-Centered Community: Identity

SCRIPTURE TEXT
1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (click to read online)

SUNDAY’S LITURGY
     God Over All
Call to Worship (Psalm 42)
     What a Friend We Have in Jesus
It is Well

     Before the Throne of God Above 
Responsive Reading (Psalm 43)
Great Are You, Lord
Sermon
The Lord’s Supper
     Jesus, I Come
Benediction

PRAYER OF PREPARATION

Consider joining us this Sunday morning for our pre-service prayer from 8:45-9:45 a.m. in the Rec. Room Kitchen. Pray with us as long as you’re able, even if you can’t stay the entire time.

If you’re unable to gather with us in prayer Sunday mornings, below is a prayer of preparation you can pray to ready your heart to be met by God in our service this Sunday.

O Lord,
We pray that you would give us the strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that we may be filled with your fullness.
Amen.

Matthew & Allana B. – Update

Matthew and Allana recently shared this update during a Sunday service.  Below you’ll find what they shared, along with a most recent update.  Please continue to pray for our friends!

1.  Please update us on your situation and current status: 

In May the doctors saw a couple of new spots on Matthew’s scan. These new spots occurred 6 months after Matthew completed his first round of chemo that lasted about a year. Both spots are outside of the original tumor site. The doctors have started Matthew on a different chemo drug. This new cycle is supposed last about 9-12 months. He takes the chemo pills orally for 1 night every 6 weeks. Matthew feels sick for a few days after he takes it then starts to feel tired and run down after 3 weeks or so.

2.  How has God been ministering to you and sustaining you through this? 

Matthew and I were expecting to have a longer break after he finished the treatment cycle last year so the news was very disappointing. The way God has been ministering to us is by taking away our choices and showing us He is in control. He very clearly has a plan for our lives so we are trusting in His promises and know that God only does what is good, right, and perfect.  God has continually sustained us through the Body of Christ. The relationships in this church that He has given us have been also very encouraging and comforting to us.

3.  What words of advice would you have for us when we face trials and suffering in our own lives?

Prepare your hearts now for suffering, as believers we know it is inevitable. Moreover, prepare the hearts of your children. Matthew was 22 years old when he was diagnosed with no previous medical history; the diagnosis came out of nowhere for Matthew and me. However, Matthew has the blessing of two very godly parents that instilled in him from a very young age that God is in control and that He only does what is good, right, and perfect!

Brain Tumor Update & Prayer Requests:

Matthew has gone though two of the chemo treatments so far. His platelet levels have been too low to begin chemo again, so he will continue to get weekly blood work to monitor his counts until he can start it up. The MRI at the end of July showed one of the spots seems to have shrunk a bit which is very encouraging; however, the other spot grew. The doctor wants him to have another chemo cycle, maybe two, to see if we start getting better results with it.

  • Please pray that Matthew’s blood will recover so he can continue to take chemo.
  • Please pray that this chemo will continue to work on the first spot and start to work on the second.
  • Please pray for wisdom that we will know the best option of treatment if we don’t start seeing better results with this chemo drug.

 

Sunday Service Follow Up: 08.25.19

Sunday Service Follow Up – 08.18.19

This past Sunday we continued our series, The Why and How of What we Do, as we considered why we gather for worship. Primarily looking at Psalm 29, we saw how we gather for worship to exalt God, encounter God, and be edified by God. For more on how we’re seeking to do these things in our gatherings, read our paper “How We Worship.”

Below you will find questions to help you respond to God’s word with your hearts and your lives, so that you might become more like Christ.

Discussion and Response Questions

Read Psalm 29 and Ephesians 5.18-19 and consider the questions below:

  1. Do you find that you gather for worship primarily out of duty or delight in response to God’s glory? Explain. In what specific ways does the vision of God in Psalm 29 move you to delight in God’s glory?
  2. How often do you gather for worship with the expectation of encountering God? How does your view of God shape these expectations? How can the Sunday Service Preparation email help you to grow in your anticipation of encountering God?
  3. Does your understanding of worship include a horizontal element? Explain. How do passages like Ephesians 5.18-19 and Colossians 3.16 call you to change how you view the corporate or communal nature of our Sunday services?

“My home group was a vital source of care and encouragement…”

One of the reasons we encourage our members to join a Home Group is because we believe that God created us to live in community. God’s designed us to be people who intentionally live our lives with others – we’re not meant to do this alone.

When you join a home group you’re living into God’s created design as you’re becoming part of a community of people who walk through life together. People who care for and encourage one another in the midst of difficult seasons and who rejoice with you in times of celebration – and everything in between!

The testimony below from Hannah Boel is just one example of what our Home Groups look like in real life. As you read it, if you’re not already in a Home Group, consider how God might want to use this context in your life – both to care for you and to use you to care for others.

For a little context, my husband Joshua and I have been married for 4 years this August, and his career in the US Navy has taken us through two deployments and countless shorter separations. However, these two deployments could not have been more different.

The first deployment started a few weeks after I had moved to San Diego, having no community and no job. We had found Grace Church before he had left, but continued to “church shop” for a few more weeks. Once it became obvious that God was leading us to Grace, I began to pursue community by attending multiple home groups while Joshua was gone.

Each group cared for me wonderfully, although no one really knew much about me at that time. It became clear that it didn’t matter to the members of Grace church whether they fully knew me or not. They simply saw me as someone who needed support, comfort, and encouragement, and that is exactly what they provided. Once Joshua returned from his first deployment, we had to figure out what this community looked like as a couple.

God was faithful to us through this process and when the second deployment came around, we felt established and confident that He would remain faithful through these 7 months apart. My home group was a vital source of care and encouragement. They truly were the body of Christ by upholding us in prayer, providing meals, distracting me with fun outings, and constantly pointing me to the promises of God. They even provided enough goodies to fill SEVEN care packages to send to Joshua and his buddies!

Because of the community at Grace, Joshua was at peace knowing that I was well taken care of and I knew that help was never too far away. We want to say thank you and we are so grateful that God lead us to Grace Church. We are excited to be a part of Christ’s work through this church!

May God continue this context in our church to help us make and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ – for his glory and our joy!

Sunday Service Preparation: 08.25.19

08.25.19
The goal of this post is to help you prayerfully and thoughtfully prepare for gathering together as the church this Sunday. Take some time to read the selected sermon text, listen to some of the songs, and pray for the pastor and those who will gather.

SERMON TOPIC
The Why & How of What We Do: Gather for Worship

SCRIPTURE TEXT
Psalm 29 (click to read online)

SUNDAY’S LITURGY
Call to Worship (Psalm 66:1-4)
     Holy
This is Amazing Grace
You are the Way
Nicene Creed
     Revelation Song
Sermon
The Lord’s Supper
    Here at the Throne
     Shout to the Lord
Benediction

PRAYER OF PREPARATION

Consider joining us this Sunday morning for our pre-service prayer from 8:45-9:45 a.m. in the Rec. Room Kitchen. Pray with us as long as you’re able, even if you can’t stay the entire time.

If you’re unable to gather with us in prayer Sunday mornings, below is a prayer of preparation you can pray to ready your heart to be met by God in our service this Sunday.

Almighty God,
You pour out your spirit of grace
And of supplication on all who desire it.
Deliver us, when we draw near to you,
From cold hearts and wandering minds,
That with steady thoughts and kindled passion
We may worship you in spirit and in truth;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Grace Church Home Groups: Our Purpose, Priority, and Approach

Grace Church Home Groups:  Our Purpose, Priority, and Approach

Home Group Purpose:

To provide a context for people to grow as disciples, where they can engage with God together, experience community, and encourage one another in our outward mission.

Home Group Priority:

Our mission as a church makes it clear that we are to be a gospel-centered community on the gospel-centered mission of making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ.  As a church family, our starting point to accomplish this mission is our Sunday gathering.  But the Sunday gathering is not sufficient in itself.  At Grace Church we have several different pathways for growing as disciples.  Among these, we consider Home Groups to be one of the most important contexts for growing as disciples. Why?

Along with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s work, growing as a disciple and making disciples requires real relationships.  Christians need deep, meaningful, life-impacting relationships to grow because most change takes place in the context of our relationships with each other.  Home Groups are a setting where Grace Church members can truly know, pray for, encourage and support one other.  It is a context for us to ‘get connected’ to a smaller group in our church.

This is why Home Groups are such a high priority.  An effective Home Group has the power to promote community and connectedness.  An effective Home Group can foster real biblical fellowship, which involves participating in life with others to the point of knowing them, feeling their hurts, sharing their joys, and encouraging their hearts.  It is also an excellent venue for growing closer to God, learning and applying the Bible together, and supporting, serving, and caring for one-another as we deal with life’s challenges.  One Christian writer describes what happens when real fellowship occurs: “Fences come down. Masks come off. Welcome signs are hung outside the door. Keys to the doors of our lives are duplicated and distributed. Joys and sorrows are shared.”[1]

Therefore, we encourage every member to be in a Home Group (or a similar group) that will encourage discipleship in the context of long-term relationships.

Home Group Approach:  Three goals that help us accomplish our mission as we meet together

Engage with God: Our Home Groups are first and foremost places where together we engage with God in his word and by His Spirit.  We read and discuss the Bible together with the purpose of seeing how God wants to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.  In this way we don’t merely discuss the sermon but we respond to God’s word seeing how it personally and practically applies to our lives.  We also engage with God as we pray for one another.

Experience Community: Home Groups are built on authentic relationships (of course these take work!).  They are a smaller context where we get to genuinely love one another and our guests.  We discover ways that we can help each other life faithfully in this fallen world.  We serve one another in hardships, carrying each other’s burdens. We also experience the joy of mutual relationships, in our life celebrations!

Encourage for Mission: Our Home Groups are a setting where we remind ourselves of the responsibility we have to go into our world with good news to make and grow disciples.  We help and encourage one another to share our lives with neighbors, family, friends, co-workers and fellow students, so that they may know about Jesus, find forgiveness in Him and follow His teachings. Home Groups are also an excellent context for those outside our community to experience the love of Christ and the blessing of authentic and meaningful relationships.

[1] Chuck Swindoll, Dropping Your Guard