John 5:31-47 The Jewish Authorities have begun prosecuting Jesus on charges of blasphemy because he is “making himself equal with God” (5:18). In turn, Jesus has entered his defense. He and His Father are working together in dependent unity. Some of this work includes giving life and pronouncing judgment, quite audacious claims for any human to make. As you can imagine, everyone standing there would be asking Jesus for evidence for these audacious claims. Knowing this, Jesus now calls to the stand three witnesses for his defense, but also offers a closing argument rebuking these authorities. In the end, we must give our verdict. Will we pronounce Jesus innocent or guilty?
John 5:19-30 After healing the lame man in John 5:1-18, the Jewish authorities begin to bring formal charges against Jesus because he is “making himself equal with God” (5:18). In our extraordinary text this week, Jesus begins his defense of his actions. This is Jesus’ longest exposition on his relationship to his Father, including the authority that his Father has given him to bestow life and render judgment. The culmination of these verses is the Gospel where Jesus invites all people to believe in him and move from death to life, a movement that can happen right now. In these breath-taking verses, Jesus makes himself the core decision for all people for all time. So, what will you do with him?
John 5:1-18 We begin a new section in the Gospel of John this week. In these middle chapters of John, by what Jesus says and does, he sets himself apart from any other person who has ever lived. To begin, he heals a man who was lame for 38 years. Before he heals him, though, he asks him a curious question: Do you want to get well? Instead of answering the question, the man seemingly responds with complaints and excuses. It’s a good question for us to consider. Do we want to get well? Jesus, God with us, stands at the door and knocks, and offers us living water. Do we really want to get well?
John 4:43-54 At the end of his Gospel, John tells us that he has written his masterpiece so that ““you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). In these early chapters of John, we have seen several people come to genuinely believe in Jesus. His mother and disciples in chapter 2 and the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan townspeople in chapter 4. This week, we see Jesus, the Word, speak but a word (actually 5 words) to a desperate father, and the question is – will this man genuinely believe Jesus’ words or not? Join our livestream this week as we explore what genuine faith in Jesus, the Word, looks like. Communion At the end of Sunday’s service we will again take communion “together” while apart. I invite you to prepare elements ahead of time which represent the body and blood of Jesus (the elements do not need to be special). If you attend Mornings Together, we will serve pre-packaged elements to you.
1 Corinthians 13 What is Love? It’s a question many ask, but few find an answer that will sustain them through all the messy realities of life. Paul’s words to the Corinthian church are that answer because Paul wrote them to a church who did not love each other. And although we often confine these words to areas where we feel love (reading them at weddings or hanging them in our family room), they actually have a much broader scope. Come join us as we discover (or rediscover) the Love that is big enough for any situation!
John 4:27-45 “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Is 52:7). Evangelism. Sometimes we hear that word and immediately we cringe. Unfortunately the word is heard negatively these days. But, we shouldn’t cringe with this word, for evangelizing is simply “good-news-izing,” telling people in word and deed the amazingly wonderful good news of Jesus. This is exactly what the woman at the well did. She met Jesus, was loved by him, then turned around and loved her neighbors by sharing the amazingly wonderful good news. What can we learn about this essential element of our faith from this woman at the well who became a well? Join our live-stream this Sunday to complete our studies in this profound scene.
John 4:19-26 This Sunday we will enter back into John, and enter back into the Samaritan woman at the well scene. Near the end of the conversation with Jesus, the woman asks about worship. Jesus has just told the woman her story, exposing the skeletons in her closet. He does this not to shame her but to show her that he loves her regardless of her skeletons. This causes the woman to want to worship. Jesus then explains what authentic worship in spirit and truth means. Since we are designed to worship, this text is fundamental to what it means to be human. Join the live-stream this Sunday to explore this important theme.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 Christians are not just individuals in relation to God but part of God’s family. We belong to a community that stretches through time and space: one holy, catholic and apostolic church. We should also belong to a local group of God’s people, a local church. Paul wrote his letters to specific communities or their leaders. In the final section of 1 Thessalonians he gives some instruction for the believers meeting together as a gathered community. At PBCC we are unable to gather in person, but are seeking to still be a gathered community through livestreamed services and Zoom meetings. We are seeking to maintain Body Life as a local expression of the Body of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 The coronavirus has shaken people’s sense of peace and security, arousing fear and uncertainty. Some have asked if the pandemic is a sign of the End Times. And now the fires that rage all around us have turned the sun into darkness and the moon into blood. Is the Day of the Lord upon us? The Thessalonian Christians were wondering about “times and dates” of the end and were worried about how they would fare. What word of comfort does Paul give them? And how should we live today in such unsettling times?
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 The pandemic has brought months of enforced isolation. Loved ones have been dying in hospitals and nursing homes, isolated from family and friends, unable to feel a comforting touch as they pass. These family and friends are themselves isolated in their grief, unable to receive visitors to wrap them in a comforting hug. News had reached Paul that some Christians in Thessalonica had died, probably due to persecution. Unable to be present with those grieving to provide comfort, he wrote a paragraph in his letter to them (1 Thessalonians). This paragraph has prompted much speculation about end-times, including the supposed Rapture. But Paul intended it for comfort not speculation. He ends the paragraph, “Comfort one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 A Life Pleasing to God (1 Thess 4:1-12) Being a Christian is not just about believing the right things about Jesus. It is about embarking on a lifelong journey of learning how to live a life that is pleasing to God, a life in which we are transformed into Christ-likeness through the Spirit whom God has put within us. We resume our earlier series in 1 Thessalonians. In the final two chapters Paul gives remedial instruction about several matters on which the young church is confused. In this Sunday’s text (4:1-12) he addresses sexuality and life together. A Christian sexual ethic presupposes spiritual formation. Life together as Christian community presupposes philadelphia, brotherly and sisterly love for one another. These are both hot-button topics today. Sadly the church often seems more conformed to the pattern of this world, rather than transformed by the renewing power of God in Christ through his Spirit.
Isaiah 65:17-25 In our four-part series Comfort O Comfort My People we have gone through three steps: First, we received God’s word of comfort (Isa 40:1-11). On the second week, we drew near to God to lament and listen (Isa 49:1-6). Last week we caught a vision for the blessings we receive in doing acts of justice (Isa 58:1-14). To conclude our series, the prophet strengthens our hope and stirs our imagination for a future to die for—in the words of Paul, “an eternal weight of glory” beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). My hope is that when your children or friends ask you what heaven is like, you’ll be able to reframe their question and light their hearts on fire with a vision of a new earth, which is crammed with the life of heaven.