The Word Became Flesh: The Light

Sunday Service Follow Up – 12.09.2018

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!…

 And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

– selections from Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This Sunday we continued our Advent series, The Word Became Flesh, where we will spend the next four weeks in the prologue to John’s gospel as we marvel at the incarnation. In this sermon from John 1:4-13, Tab showed us three ways The Light penetrates the darkness of this fallen world.

  1. The invincible light of Christ.
  2. The life-giving light of Christ.
  3. The transforming light of Christ.

Below you will find discussion questions that you can work through individually, as a family, or with other believers.

Discussion & Response Questions:

Read John 1:4-13 and consider the questions below.

  1. How does this passage increase your wonder of Christmas? How might the truths in these verses increase your affections for Christ – God the Son incarnate?
  2. Christ is the invincible light who will overcome the darkness. How does this truth give you hope as you face the realities of life in this fallen, dark world?
  3. All who have trusted in Christ have been given a transformed identity – we’ve been made the beloved children of God (v. 12). How are you living in the good of this given identity? In what specific ways can you grow in your awareness of your true identity?
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The Word Became Flesh

 And the Word became flesh…John 1:14

“At conception, God became a fertilized egg! An embryo. A fetus. God kicked Mary from within her womb!  At birth, God entered the world as a baby, amid the stench of manure and cobwebs and prickly hay in a stable.  Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diapers!  In infancy, God learned to crawl, stand, and walk. He spilt his milk and fell and hit his head.  As a youth, God went through puberty!   His voice changed. He had to shave.” – Sam Storms

 

Sunday Service Preparation: 12.09.18

Sunday Service Preparation – 12.09.18
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 TITLE
ADVENT – The Light

SERMON TEXT
John 1:4-13 (click to read online)

SUNDAY’S LITURGY
God of Wonders
    Call to Worship
Joy to the World
O Holy Night
     Corporate Confession/Assurance of Pardon
Glorious Day
     Pastoral Prayer
     Sermon
     The Lord’s Supper
Revelation Song
How Great is Our God
     Benediction

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
Below is a prayer of preparation you can consider praying to ready your heart to be met by God in our service this Sunday.

God of goodness and grace,
We long for your presence,
For the peace your promises bring,
And for the assurances we have received
Through the gift of your Son.
May we, your people,
This day and every day,
Have open eyes to see
And open ears to hear
Your presence among us.
Open us to your Holy Spirit, Lord,
And prepare us for worship.
Amen.

Advent – The Word

This Sunday, December 2nd, we began our Advent series, The Word Became Flesh, where we will spend the next four weeks in the prologue to John’s gospel as we marvel at the incarnation. In this sermon from John 1:1-3, Tab showed us four truths about The Word, meant to move our hearts to worship:

  • The Word is Eternal.
  • The Word is Divine.
  • The Word is the Creator.
  • The Word Became Flesh.

Below you will find discussion questions that you can work through individually, as a family, or with other believers.

Discussion & Response Questions:

Read John 1:1-3 and consider the questions below.

  1. In this sermon, Tab showed us how these verses display Jesus as both transcendent (being entirely above and outside of creation) and immanent (being actively involved in creation). Do you tend to think of Jesus as primarily one of these over the other? Why is it important that we keep these truths in balance?
  2. How does this passage increase your wonder of Christmas? How might the truths in these verses increase your affections for Christ – God the Son incarnate?
  3. How does the incarnation – God become flesh – bring you comfort as you experience the realities of life in this fallen world?

Youth Retreat: WHY & HOW

Our Youth Retreat in Pine Valley is quickly approaching (January 11th-12th), and registration is now underway.  I wanted to communicate both why it’s important your youth attend, and how to register.

The WHY…

I asked to teach this year’s youth retreat for a specific reason.  It’s my experience as a parent, and in talking with some of you I’m not alone in this, that there is a great blessing for our youth growing up in a Christian home, but also a real challenge for them.

The blessing is that our children and teens hear the good news of Jesus all of their lives; that is an inestimable privilege, to be sure!  They get to know of God’s great love and the mercy he has shown to all who believe.  But therein lies the challenge since, for most of them, this great blessing is all they’ve known.  The common temptation then is for the Christian life to be largely a matter of mere mental assent, and less of a genuine, supernatural relationship with the living God.

That leads to my “burden” for our youth, and this retreat in particular.  While it is absolutely vital that our youth know what the Bible teaches about God and give earnest assent to those truths, I’m concerned that they actually know and enjoy God personally.   This has also been a concern for Marshall, and I know for others as well.  So, for this year’s retreat I proposed to address the theme of “Encountering God.

We’re planning to have three messages that address how a relationship with God is not just about knowing the right answers (as crucial as that is), but it is also experienced as a genuine relationship with God!   Specifically we plan to teach on:

  • Encountering God by His Spirit – that is, knowing and enjoying the Person and work of God the Holy Spirit
  • Encountering God in His Word – that in and through God’s word, in particular, we enjoy communion with the Spirit
  • Encountering God as his Child – that a particular work of the Spirit is to minister assurance to the believing that we are God’s beloved child

This retreat setting not only gives us context to teach these truths, it also gives us opportunity to “practice”.  So the youth will be given guidance for meeting with God on their own through His Word, and opportunity to do so.

In addition, pulling away together like this enables us to further our relationships and see our youth more connected with each other.  They’ll share meals, play games, and discuss teaching together.  In short, it’s a great context for both fun and fellowship.   We will also have the privilege of hosting 10 to 15 youth from Bridge of Hope, and we’re delighted to do so again this year.

With that “WHY” in view, may I urge you to register your student for this retreat?  We also want you, parents, to attend if at all possible.  That way you can follow up in discipling your student in relation to the content of the retreat.

We also encourage your students to invite friends; this retreat is open to all who want to come and learn together.  There will be invitations available this Sunday which you can use to invite others.  Which leads to the how

The HOW…

You need to register online by going to this link.  You can also find that registration form on our website, on the “youth” page.  You need to register soon as registration will end on December 16 (and final payment is due by Dec 16).

The cost is $88 / person (three meals included).  However, if the cost of this retreat would hinder you or your student from attending, please let us know that.  We do not want finances alone to stop anyone from benefitting from what could be an important time for their spiritual lives.  (There is also a Saturday-only option; see details at link above.)

Please note that you’ll need to fill out a waiver form for each person attending.  Those forms can also be found at the link above.

Joci Moon, Carmine Wood, and Sarah Rehart have been hard at work planning, preparing and administrating this context.  Please thank them as you have the opportunity.  If you have any questions, please contact one of them.

We hope to see you January 11th-12th in Pine Valley!

Tab

Retreat Location & Times:

Pine Valley Bible Conference Center
8668 Pine Creek Rd, Pine Valley
  • Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m. – Fri, Jan 11
  • Retreat ends the evening of Sat, Jan 12

God’s Glory: Past, Present, & Future

Sunday Service Review: November 25, 2018.

Having just finished our series on the doctrine of the Church, and as we look forward to the beginning of Advent this coming Sunday, we invited Wes VanFleet from Kaleo Church to preach to us from the book of Haggai on God’s glory.

Knowing that we’re often tempted to look back to the “glory days” of our past, or to the future with idealistic hope, we’re often left unsure what to do in the present. From Haggai 2:1-9, Wes showed us how God comes and speaks to a mixed community of people wondering what to do in the present.

Below you will find discussion questions that you can work through individually, as a family, or with other believers.

Discussion & Response Questions:

Read Haggai 2:1-9 and consider the questions below.

  1. Haggai is writing to a people who are discouraged with the present state of the temple, especially as they compared it to its former glory (vs. 1-3). In vs. 4-5, God calls them to action by reminding them of his presence with them. Why would this have been an encouragement to the people?
  2. How does the promise of God’s presence help you to reframe your present circumstances? In what specific ways does it help you to live differently in the midst of the good, hard, and bad of life? How can this reality comfort, encourage, or sustain you?
  3. Haggai ends this passage by giving his readers a picture of the future glory that awaits God’s people (vs. 6-9). How does the reality of this future glory (cf. Rev. 21:22, 24) shape the way you’re living in the present?

Advent 2018

THE WHAT, WHY, AND HOW OF ADVENT

As our modern American calendars flip to their final page noting the ending of another year, the Christian calendar is already starting its “New Year” Celebration in the season of Advent. The church’s calendar begins here because it parallels and narrates the life of Christ: his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and time of filling the church with the Spirit (known as Ordinary Time). As one person writes about the church calendar, “Time here revolves around the person of Jesus.” The church year is meant to be an extended commemoration and invitation to enter into the gospel, seen in the life of Christ.

Traditionally, the season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, this year beginning on December 2nd. As we prepare to enter this Advent Season I want to highlight the what, why and how of Advent.

WHAT IS ADVENT?

Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus which means “coming.” Historically, this has been a time when the church both looks backward and forward to the two advents – or comings – of Christ.

Beginning its new year, the Church looks backwards to the first coming of Christ in his incarnation. In this season, the church remembers what it was like for the people of God who were longing for the birth of the Messiah – the promised seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), offspring of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and true son of David (2 Samuel 7).

But this is also a time when the church looks forward to Christ’s second advent. Christ has come, yet not all things have reached completion – we are still a people who are waiting for the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. In Advent, we confess that the infant who drew his first breath on Christmas day has yet to speak his final word.

In this way there’s a tension in our celebration of Advent. We look back remembering Israel’s waiting and longing. We give thanks for Christ’s birth which brought the initial fulfillment of God’s promises. But we also remember that we too are a people who are waiting and longing, perhaps with a bit of holy impatience, eagerly anticipating the second coming of Christ.

WHY CELEBRATE ADVENT?

While there are many reasons to celebrate Advent, I want to highlight two reasons you should consider celebrating Advent this year.

Advent increases our anticipation and longing for Christ’s return.

First, Advent increases our longing for Christ’s return. As Christians, we’re waiting for more than just Christmas morning, we’re waiting for the return of Christ. The day when he comes in glory and everything sad comes untrue.

In a world that is filled with reminders that things are not yet as they should be. Where we’re constantly aware that there’s a brokenness in our world and in our lives that no cart full of Black Friday bargains can fix, our anticipation for Christ’s second coming should grow.

Jesus, the one who was, who is, and who is to come (Revelation 1:8), will return and when he comes at the end of the ages he will make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Our prayer in Advent is the concluding prayer of the Bible as we cry out Maranatha, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’

Advent fortifies our confidence in the promises of God.

Secondly, as our longing for Christ’s return grows, Advent reassures us that this longing is not in vain. We’re not looking forward to something that we simply hope might happen because in Christ’s death and resurrection we have a blood-bought confidence in our future hope.

In looking back to the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ’s first coming, we’re reassured that He will come again. Advent reminds us of God’s past faithfulness and strengthens our confidence that he will keep all of his present and future promises to us (2 Corinthians 1:20).

HOW TO CELEBRATE ADVENT?

By God’s grace, there are many great resources to help you and your family enter into this meaningful season as you look backwards and forwards this Advent.

  • Jesse Tree – This is one of our favorite family traditions and a great way to include all your kids, especially the little ones. Link includes the clip art to create our own ornaments as well as some other Advent resources.
  • Prepare Him Room – Another great family resource, especially for those with little kids, has lots of fun activities.
  • Love Came Down at Christmas – A new Advent devotional by Sinclair Ferguson connecting the incarnation of Jesus to God’s great love for his people which is the source of all our celebrations this time of year.
  • Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional – An Advent devotional by Paul Tripp that will help you slow down, prepare your heart, and focus on what matters most during this season: adoring our Savior, Jesus.
  • The Dawning of Indestructible Joy & Good News of Great Joy – two eBooks by John Piper with daily Advent meditations which aim to keep Jesus at the center of your holiday season.