John 7:25-52 We enter back into our studies in John this week in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles. As we explore the details of this feast, we continue to see conflict and division over the identity of Jesus. The authorities even send officers to arrest Jesus. And, on the last day of the feast, above the joyous crowd celebrating the feast, Jesus shouts his great invitation, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! And, if you do, out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water!” It’s a stunning and remarkable invitation, which is why those officers come back without arresting Jesus. And why? In their words, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” Indeed, no one has ever spoken like Jesus did.
John 7:1-24 This Sunday we enter back into the amazing Gospel of John. Over the next five weeks, we will explore chapters 7 and 8, the very heart of the book. Hostility and conflict surrounding the identity of Jesus characterize almost every scene in these two chapters. The instant pot is building pressure. Who is he anyway? Is Jesus “a good man,” meaning is he really connected to God, the source of all goodness (John 7:12)? Or is he an imposter? These two chapters invite us to decide for ourselves, and a lot hangs in the balance.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18 Most of us work to earn money so we can eat our daily bread. Is work good or bad? Is it a necessary evil to be endured? Or is it a valuable use of our time? In Thessalonica there were some Christians who had stopped working and were expecting others in the community to supply their daily bread. We’ll see how Paul responded to them, and why he chose to work as a tentmaker while engaged in Christian ministry.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 God is love: a community of perfect love, flowing between Father and Son through the Spirit. In generosity he shares his love in creation and in redemption. When we respond to the gospel in faith we enter the Beloved Community. The Thessalonian Christians were a local chapter. They were the Lord’s beloved, and they were beloved of Paul. Their present suffering did not indicate that God did not love them. Paul prayed that they be drawn more fully into God’s love. On this Valentine’s Day, do you feel part of the Beloved Community?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” With these words T.S. Eliot ended his poem The Hollow Men. The Thessalonian Christians were very concerned about the end of the world. Paul commended their faith, love and hope as a shining example to others. Their hope was in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they were uncertain what that would entail, and therefore anxious. We come to one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament in which Paul seeks to calm their nerves. But he does so in a manner that has generated both wild speculation and baffled confusion.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” So said the early church Father Tertullian to the Roman Emperor in the year 200. In many countries around the world Christians are still being killed for their faith, solely for being Christians. Why does God allow his faithful people to suffer such persecution? And how should Christians live in the face of such persecution and trouble? Last year we looked at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. Over the next four weeks we will look at his second letter to the same church, a church that is suffering under persecutions and trials.
Philippians 4:10-23 We spend much of our lives consumed by what we lack and defined by what we don’t have. Not so Paul! Whether he ‘has’ or ‘has not’, Paul lives in the abundance of God’s provision. So as we come to the end of this letter (written from a Roman prison), we too must ask ourselves – are we living in the fullness of God’s abundant supply or the lack of our present needs?
Philippians 4:8-9 Practice makes perfect – we all know that! But just what exactly are we supposed to be practicing? And how do we know? And what kind of ‘Perfect’ should we be aiming for anyways? Come join us as we explore these questions and more, as we continue in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Philippians 4:1-7 Right Thinking leads to Right Living. Having addressed our mindset last week, Paul doesn’t stop there, for there must be an outworking of this Right Thinking. And so this week, we’ll see Paul explore some of the daily choices of our Right Living. What happens when we disagree? How about when life makes us anxious? And what does it look like to stand firm?
Philippians 3:12-21 We are a people of direction and that direction is Upwards! As we begin this new year and jump back into our series in Philippians, we will see Paul instruct us to forget what lies behind and to press on for the prize of the Upward Call of God. But what does that look like in a season when it feels like our entire lives have been placed on hold? And how do our life goals fit into this? The answers to these questions greatly depend on which future we’re living for. Come join us as we press on toward our goal – the Upward Call of God!
In Roman mythology Janus is the god of “beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings.” (Wikipedia) He is imaged as having two faces, one face looking to the past and one to the future. The ending of 2020 and the beginning of a new year provides an excellent time to pause and reflect, not only looking back and forward, but also looking within and around. Hopefully this Sunday will provide a space to do just that. Since God is in everything, we will pray for the vision to see through the events of our lives and find the God that is with us personally and who loves us beyond what we can imagine. I look forward to “seeing” you all!! John
Matthew 5:8, Luke 2:22-40 This Sunday is our last Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas! Advent is a time of waiting, of longing, of hoping. What do you find yourself longing for this week before Christmas? Perhaps it is gifts? Perhaps it is a vaccine? Perhaps it is a return to the ordinary? Whatever it is, we all know that waiting is difficult. Especially in a culture expecting instant gratification, waiting is not fun. In our text this week, we meet Simeon and Anna who are waiting, waiting for God to bring salvation and redemption. But, more importantly, these two characters, who demonstrate a purity of heart, show us how to wait well. Are you waiting well this Advent season?