Sermon Recap — March 11, 2018

Mercy Maxims

Peter Privitera
Romans 9:14-18
March 11, 2018
Sermon Audio


  • We all are familiar with the emotion of indignation. Consider the road rage incident Peter’s father experienced in Philadelphia.  Not all of our reasons for feeling indignant are good reasons. In fact, most of our anger is unhelpful and contrary to God’s working.
  • In our text this week Paul anticipates an indignant response to his argument. This is meant, ultimately, to point to God’s grace toward sinners, like ourselves.
  • It’s very human and very common to become indignant toward God. But Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wants us to have a response like our road-raging Englishman in Peter’s illustration whose initial outrage quickly melted away.

Main Theme: Seeing our need for mercy melts indignation into worship.

I. To know God is to know mercy (verses 14-15)

  • Romans 9 begins with Paul expressing his anguish over their rejection of Jesus.
  • Then, he moves on to explain why they have mostly rejected him by teaching them that belonging to the people of God was never a simple matter of ethnicity. In order to belong to God, God must choose you.
  • Therefore, the section ends with a statement that, at first glance, may seem impossibly unfair. But God is just. It’s inconceivable that he would not be because he is the ultimate standard of right and wrong.
  • But this is only the beginning of Paul’s argument. The heart of Paul’s answer is to turn, not to the justice of God, but to his mercy. His response, “No, he is merciful”, may at first glance seem like a non-answer. To understand why, we must look at Exodus 33 – The Golden Calf. God could have destroyed the Israelites for worshipping  a golden calf but instead he reveals himself to Moses as a God of goodness and mercy.

II. To fail to see God’s mercy is to trust human will or works (verse 16)

  • The summary of Paul’s answer to the idea of injustice on God’s part in salvation is this: “It belongs to God.” Paul is saying that belonging to God, or salvation is dependent on one thing and it is not a thing, but a person. It is dependent on God who has mercy.
  • Mercy is never obligatory. When God chooses to show mercy to some, that is not unjust. Does every person deserve to be saved by God? No, but that is where many go in their logic of God’s saving work. If God is obligated to save, that is not mercy.
  • If we do not see salvation as belonging exclusively to the mercy of God, then how are we viewing our salvation? The implication is (v.16) that we then believe that becoming part of God’s people depends not on God, but on human will, human choice, human works/ethics.

III. To be hardened by God is to be given over by God (verses 17-18)

  • The idea of how the rebellious human heart interacts with the choice of God is that God gives people over to the rebellion that is already inside them (see Romans 1).
  • “God hardens those he wants to harden. And all those whom he hardens want to be hardened.” — Timothy Keller
  • “The world fell into sin, but God put a limit, a restraint upon it, and this world would be complete chaos and hell if he did not do so. But the moment he draws back his restraining influence [at any point] there is hardening [there] … So that is one of the ways in which God produces hardening … He leaves them to themselves.” — Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

* The Sermon Recap above is drawn mostly from the Sermon Recap when this sermon was first preached at Crossway Church of Lancaster.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read the text, Romans 9:14-18
  • In Exodus 32, the people of Israel were on the brink of experiencing God’s justice. Instead, they experienced his mercy. What does this story reveal to us about God’s character–what He is like?
  • What do we mean when we say God is merciful?
    • Group leader-Helpful note: “mercy is His decision not to pour out wrath on all people but to provide for the forgiveness of some. “
  • It was said under the second point – ‘If God is obligated to save that is not mercy.’ What does that mean?
    • Note: below is an extremely helpful clip from a teaching by the late RC Sproul that explains how God is not unjust to show mercy to some but not others. Consider playing it and then asking your Care Group members to share their thoughts and reflections on it.
  • “God hardens those he wants to harden. And all those whom he hardens want to be hardened.” — Timothy Keller
    • What does that statement mean?
    • What do you think about it?
    • How do we see the truth of that quote born out in the story of Pharaoh (see Scriptures below)?
      • Exodus 7:3 – But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt,
      • Exodus 7:13 – Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
      • Exodus 7:14 – Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go.
      • Exodus 7:22 – But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
      • Exodus 8:15 – But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
      • Exodus 8:19 – Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
      • Exodus 8:32 – But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.
      • Exodus 9:7 – And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
      • Exodus 9:12 – But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
      • Exodus 9:34 – But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.
      • Exodus 9:35 – So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
      • Exodus 10:1 – Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them,
      • Exodus 10:20 – But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.
      • Exodus 10:27 – But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.
      • Exodus 11:10 – Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.
      • Exodus 14:4 – And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.
      • Exodus 14:8 – And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly.
      • Exodus 14:17 – And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.
      • 1 Samuel 6:6 – Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?
  • How has God been merciful to you personally/specifically?
  • What might your life look like if you had not experienced the mercy of God?
  • Consider taking time to pray together as a group, thanking God for His mercy.

Sermon Recap – March 4, 2018

Learning Dependence and the Five Thousand Miracle

Jeremy Bell
Luke 9:7-17
February 25, 2018
Sermon Audio


  • Luke has recorded for his readers, in chapter 8, three stories of Christ’s authority over all things.
  • In this week’s text, Jesus sends His disciples out with His authority and power in order that the Good News of Jesus Christ would spread to all people!

Main Theme: God’s disciples depend on God’s power to accomplish God’s purposes.

The Story

Herod’s Curiosity Piqued 

(Verses 7-9)

  • The question that stood out during this time – “who is this Jesus?”
  • Was He John the Baptist come back to life? Was He Elijah? Was He a prophet from old? Who was this man? The people wanted to know. Herod even wanted to know.
  • All must make a decision regarding who they believe Jesus is.

The Test of Faith and Feeding the 5,000 

(Verse 10)

  • The disciples were excited that Christ had proven faithful and ministered to their needs while on their mission.
  • Anything they had accomplished they had done by the power of Christ and was made possible by faith in His promises.
  • He took them away for a private time of reflection and rejoicing in the success of the mission.

(Verse 11)

  • The crowds learned where He was and followed Him. Jesus welcomed the crowds, they were not a bother to Him.
  • He talked with them about the Kingdom of God. He cured those who needed healing.
  • Jesus was modeling something here. This is just what He had commissioned the disciples to do. He was preparing them for ministry as He will soon be departing from them.

(Verse 12-13)

  • Having already experienced Jesus’ miraculous, sustaining care — the disciples asked Jesus to send them away on the basis of their inability to provide for the large group’s need for food.

(Verse 13)

  • Jesus wants to help them to see His provision a bit more clearly, so He says “You give them something to eat.”
  • They forget that its Jesus they’re talking with.
  • The lesson they needed to learn: depend on Christ in all things. Jesus is in the process of preparing them to rely on Him when He is gone.
  • May we do the same and not forget that Jesus is with us, and we can depend on Him and His ability to provide.

(Verses 14-16)

  • Jesus takes the loaves and fish and He looks to the Provider to provide.
  • Jesus did the miracle, but the disciples served in the process.
  • Jesus broke the bread and the bread was distributed. There was far more leftover than originally given!

(Verse 17)

  • Jesus took the bread and broke it. The people ate and were satisfied
  • This is a visual foretelling of what Jesus is about to reveal to His disciples–that He must suffer and die in Jerusalem.  Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:22-29)
  • Just as the loaves of bread were broken and distributed for the satisfaction of the crowd, so His body will be broken and killed for the satisfaction of the sins of everyone who will ever believe in Him.
  • Old Testament Connection: God has provided for the people, just like God provided manna (2 Kings 4:42-44) (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Implication and Application

I. God designs tests to lead us to Himself and to increase our faith.

  • The testing of our faith turns us away from self-sufficiency and towards dependence upon Him (see James 1:2-4).

“No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.” ― Charles H. Spurgeon

  • God grows us to trust Him more!

II. God’s power does the work, but He uses disciples.

  • The power is not theirs. It is God’s power working through them.
  • We follow One who, with a simple word and a prayer, can feed five thousand people with a little basket of food!
  • Our Lord knows exactly what you need. He knows what you don’t need. He will supply exactly what’s needed (see Philippians 4:19)
  • We can trust Him as our Good Shepherd, our Good Father, and our Good Provider – He knows and He can supply.


This sermon concluded with a video of John Piper’s reflections on Billy Graham. Billy Graham’s life is a living illustration of God accomplishing His  work, by His power, through one of his servants.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read the story, Luke 9:7-17.
  • Look at verses 7-9. The question regarding Jesus’ identity, who He is, is a question we each must answer.  What are some of the ways people might answer that question today? Describe the moment, or season in your life when you began to realize that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world and what that means for you personally?
  • Re-read verses 12 & 13. When Jesus says to His disciples, “You give them something to eat” — what message is He trying to send them? What is He trying to show them?
  • In what ways do you recall that God provided for His people in the Old Testament ?
  • The disciples were self-sufficient and therefore didn’t look to Jesus to do what only He can do. In what ways can we be like the disciples? In what ways can Christians in general be self-sufficient? In what ways do you struggle with self-sufficiency?
  • What is the relationship between prayerlessness and self-sufficiency?
  • What does it meant to look to God, expectantly, as the source of our provision? Practically, how do we do that…while at the same time trusting God when answers to our prayers don’t come as quickly or in the manner we might like?
  • In what ways, physically or spiritually do you feel your need for God to provide for you/and or your family?
  • Consider taking time to pray for one another and the needs for provision that are shared.

Sermon Recap — February 27, 2018

Commissioned To Proclaim

Jeremy Bell
Luke 9:1-6
February 25, 2018
Sermon Audio


  • Luke has recorded for his readers, in chapter 8, three stories of Christ’s authority over all things.
  • In this week’s text, Jesus sends His disciples out with His authority and power in order that the Good News of Jesus Christ would spread to all people!

Main Theme: Jesus calls, empowers and sends out his disciples to accomplish kingdom work.

The Story

  • Jesus called His disciples (verse 1). He’s the One that called them – Peter from the fishing boat, Matthew from the tax collector’s booth.
  • Jesus empowered His disciples (verse 1). He gives them the same authority that He’s just been displaying — power and authority over demons and diseases.
  • Jesus “sent them out….” – (verse 2) He expanded the ministry of the Good News through His disciples. Jesus desires that we join Him in His work of spreading the word of the supremacy of Christ over all things.
  • What did He send them to do?  “To proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (verse 2).” Jesus’ message was that God is the King who summons people to submit to his kingship–His saving reign. The healings and exorcisms were a live demonstration of God’s power over all things, of His kingly rule.
  • Jesus’ instructions — “Take nothing for your journey…” (verse 3) Jesus required utter dependence upon His ability to provide. In order to serve Christ, our trust must fully be in Him, not in ourselves and in our ability to provide. This includes the matter of lodging as well (verse 4).
  • Lodging (verse 4) In the same way that they should take nothing for the journey but trust in God to provide, they also are to entrust themselves to God for their lodging.
  • Rejection of the Message (verse 5)  The act of shaking of the dust of their feet serve as a symbolic warning to those who observed it as a signal of the coming judgment of God if they remained in unbelief.
  • “There was a rabbinic idea that the dust of Gentile lands carried defilement, and strict Jews are said to have removed it from their shoes whenever they returned to Palestine from abroad. The disciples’ shaking of the dust from their feet . . . declared in symbol that Israelites who rejected the kingdom were no better than Gentiles. They did not belong to the people of God.” — Leon Morris
  • The disciples obeyed and spread the Word (Verse 6). That they went “everywhere” gives note to the urgency with which they carried out Jesus’ command.

Three Key Lessons

  1. If You’re A Disciple, Jesus Intends to Send You and Use You
  2. Faith Will Be Required of You In This Mission
  3. We Simply Obey the Call of God and Leave the Results to Him

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read the story, Luke 9:1-6.
  • Look at verse 1. What does it mean to be someone who is called by Jesus? What implications does “being called” have for our day to day lives?
  • Jesus sent His disciples out to proclaim, the Gospel of the Kingdom…in other words the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be someone who is sent by Jesus? In your own station/season of life, what does it mean practically for you to be someone who is sent by Jesus?
  • Who are the people God used in your life to share the gospel with you, who you are thankful obeyed Jesus’ call to go?
  • When was a time in your life when God used you to share Christ with an unbeliever?
  • The disciples were called to trust God in the mission. In what ways do we need to trust God as we go…for provision, for other things?
  • What does it mean, look like to lay our lives down sacrificially for the cause of Christ?
  • Perhaps take time to make plans to do something together as a Care Group to reach out to the lost people around you.
  • Perhaps take time to pray that God would increase our passion to serve Christ and share the Good News with those around us.

Sermon Recap — February 18, 2018

Where To Turn In Our Hour of Need

Chris Patton
Luke 8:40-56
February 18, 2018
Sermon Audio


  • There comes a time; usually multiple times in a person’s life where their sense of personal need is great–where their sense of need is palpable, it is tangible.
  • This passage is about where to turn in those moments when we find ourselves in a place of desperate need.

Main Theme: In our hour of distress, in our moment of need the only proper object of our faith is Jesus.

Context: In the previous two scenes in chapter 8, Jesus exercised His power of the forces of nature as well as His authority over Satan/demons. Both of those stories re-enforced Luke’s primary message throughout his gospel that Jesus is no mere man.  He is the Son of God. Indeed He is God Himself. Far from a cold theological proposition that has no bearing on real life, Luke continues in our narrative today to show that Jesus’ identity as the Sovereign All-Powerful One is of monumental significance for ordinary people living in a fallen world who often experience painful suffering and need to know where to turn for relief, for help in their hour of need.

I. Jairus: A Desperate Man

  • Jairus has one daughter.
    • This is his little girl.
    • She is on her death bed.
    • If something drastic doesn’t happen, she is going to die.
    • And Jairus knows – there is only one person in the world who can do anything about it. 
    • He comes to Jesus, which is an expression of His own faith in the Lord.
    • He throws himself down at Jesus feet, imploring Jesus, urging Jesus,  begging Jesus to come to house
  • Jesus in response begins to make his way to this man’s home.
    • What tenderness.
    • What compassion on the part of our Lord.

II. A Desperate Woman

  • At this point in the narrative, Luke introduces us to an unnamed woman vs.43, who had experienced chronic hemorraging for twelve years.
  • She suffered physically, financially (8:43).  She also suffered socially.
  • According to Old Testament Law, this woman would have been ceremonially unclean because of this condition which meant practically that she could not another human being without that person then having to go through the extensive ritual cleansing process prescribed in the Old Testament.  
  • From the time this condition came upon this woman, she would have been utterly alone, secluded from society.
  • Anything that was good in this woman’s life was lost because of this illness and had been lost for a very long time. Twelve years is a long time.
  • Jesus heals her.  Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace (v.48).”
  • Jesus’ words could be  translated “your faith has saved you…”  
  • Jesus pronounced “peace” over her.
  • Yes she was healed.  She was also now reconciled to God. She was cleansed. She was now a daughter of God.
  • This not merely a miraculous healing. It’s more. This is salvation by grace through faith.
  • Application: Out of our own sense of desperate need, will you and I not come to Jesus? 

III. Jairus’ Daughter Raised

  • Jesus calls Jairus, in his moment of desperation to not panic, to not despair but against all odds to keep
    • Believing
    • Hoping
    • Trusting
    • May God help us to do the same in our distress
  • No matter how bleak our circumstances may appear, may we not become cynical and despairing but rather may we keep trusting Lord.
  • Jesus does the unthinkable. To her parents utter astonishment and amazement, Jesus  raises this little girl from the dead, restoring her to life and then says ‘someone please get her something to eat.’
    • Imagine their joy…The hugging…The tears of happiness and relief.
    • Their grief, in a second turned to rejoicing.
  • This little girl’s resurrection points to our resurrection.
    • It points to the day when our Lord Jesus returns and He says to each one who has died in Christ “arise”
    • That future day is as real is this day we just read about in Luke 8.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read the story, Luke 8:40-56. Consider reading the parallel account in Mark as well (Mark 5:21-43).
  • Give a profile of Jairus. What does Luke tells us about this man?
  • In what ways is Jairus’ faith revealed/expressed in this passage?
  • What can we learn from Jairus and his example of faith?
  • Give a profile of this woman. What does Luke tell us about her?  What do you think life must have been like for her?
  • What can we learn from this woman, her example of faith?
  • What does this story reveal about Jesus — Who He is, What He is like?
  • Looking back over your life, when was a time that you felt a deep awareness/sense of your own desperate need? How did God meet you ?
  • Perhaps right now you feel desperate, perhaps not. In either case, what ways currently do you feel your awareness of need? How do you long for God to act, to move in your life or perhaps in the life of someone else you love/care about? Consider taking time to pray for one another.

Sermon Recap — February 11, 2018

The Good Shepherd

Warren Boettcher
John 10:1-18
February 11, 2018
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: The Good Shepherd loves you like none other.

I. The Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep

  • See verses 3, 4, 14
  • God is the Creator and Sustainer of every person.
  • He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves.
  • “He has an intimate knowledge of all who are redeemed with His most precious blood…He knows the secret ins and outs of every one of us better than any one of us knows himself.  He knows our trials, and knows our sins.  When He chose us, He knew what we were and what we should be.  He did not buy his sheep in the dark.  He did not choose us without knowing all the devious ways of our past and future lives.  Herein lies the splendor of His grace.  They say of human love that it is blind; but Christ’s love has many eyes, and all its eyes are open, and yet He still loves us.”  — Charles Spurgeon.
  • He is the One who knows you best, loves you best!
  • This Lord who knows you best, also continually reveals Himself to us
    • Through His Word
    • Through prayer
    • Through His care for His sheep

II. The Good Shepherd Cares For His Sheep

  • See verses 9-12
  • The Good Shepherd protects His sheep and He provides for His sheep
  • Psalm 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me”
  • Psalm 78:52-53 – “Then he led out His people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.  He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid, but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.”
  • The greatest thing in His care for His sheep is that He gives us Himself!
  • “Abundant life is not about having stuff.  It’s about having God…The apex of abundant life is the worship of Jesus Christ.”  — John Piper

III. The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life for His Sheep

  • See verses, 11, 15, 17-18.
  • The clearest expression of the Shepherds love is His laying down His life for the sheep. No greater love can be expressed than this.
  • “We see the depth of Jesus’ love in the freedom of it – the willingness of it, the eagerness of it, the gladness of it.  He was not forced into doing what He was not willing and eager to do…He loved us with all His heart.”  John Piper
  • Because Jesus was the perfect man, He could be our substitute and take the punishment our sins deserved.
  • And because Jesus is God, He was able to righteously absorb the blame. No one who is guilty could take the guilt of another – our shepherd needed to be perfect.
  • Because Jesus is the perfect God/Man, He could defeat death and conquer the grave by rising again.
  • This is how much God loves us – that God died to redeem us !

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-Read John 10:1-18 and briefly review the main points (see above).
  • Re-read the Spurgeon quote under point #1. How does it affect you to know that God knows you so personally, deeply, specifically?
  • How is the Good Shepherd different from the hired hand of verses 12-13 ?
  • The Good Shepherd protects His sheep and He provides for His sheep. What are some of the ways this takes place practically in the life of the believer?
  • “Abundant life is not about having stuff.  It’s about having God…The apex of abundant life is the worship of Jesus Christ.”  — John Piper
    • What is Piper getting at in this quote?
    • How does the truth Piper speaks of in this quote apply to you and me?
  • At the Cross, the Good Shepherd who is Jesus laid His life down for us. How does the Cross inform our view/perspective of Jesus and  His disposition towards the believer?

Sermon Recap — February 4, 2018

Jesus and the Demoniac

Jeremy Bell
Luke 8:26-39
February 3, 2018
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Jesus has ultimate authority over all of the principalities and forces of the spirit world.

We looked at the details of story, then drew three observations from this event:

I.  Jesus has all authority over the spirit world

  • Jesus has all authority over demonic forces.
  • Demonic forces are real and seek to exert influence. The call of the Christian is to resist as we continue to seek to live godly lives. We considered what it means to resist the enemy.
    • “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”  — Ephesians 4:26
    • “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.” — 1 Peter 5:8-9
    • “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4:7
  • We considered the question, “can a Christian be demon possessed?” The answer is “no.”
    • “If by ‘demon-possessed’ they mean that a person’s will is completely dominated by a demon, so that a person has no power left to choose to do right and obey God, then the answer to whether a Christian could be demon-possessed would certainly be no, for Scripture guarantees that sin shall have no dominion over us since we have been raised with Christ.” (Romans 6:14, 4,11) — Wayne Grudem.
  • “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist and magician with the same delight.” — CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
  • We don’t want to go to either extreme. We don’t want to disbelieve the reality of the demonic realm nor to be preoccupied with it. We wish to be preoccupied with Christ! We focus on the power of the gospel that saved us, that set us free, that redeemed us. Jesus has always had, and always will have, the dominion and power over all the forces of spiritual darkness. Therefore, we can rejoice!

II. No one is outside of the reach of Christ’s love and power

  • If God can do the work of transforming this man, there’s certain hope for you and I.

III. Jesus redeems people and sets them on a mission to share Him!

  • He redeems this man and sets him on a mission. God has done the same in our lives as well. He redeems all of His people and sets them in motion for His glory
  • Jesus commissions Paul to preach among the Gentiles “that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me”–  2 Cor. 10:3-4

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read the narrative. What was this man’s day to day existence like prior to his encounter with the Savior?
  • What does this story demonstrate regarding Jesus’ authority over evil?
  • This passage reveals Jesus’ power over evil. What else does this story reveal or demonstrate about our Lord?
  • Re-read the CS Lewis quote under point #1.
    • Explain these two opposite errors.
    • Why must we guard against these two opposite errors? What is the danger in these two opposite extremes?
  • What does it mean to resist the Enemy in a biblical way without becoming pre-occupied with the demonic realm?
  • In what was does this story encourage and strengthen the faith of the believer? How does it strengthen your faith?
  • This man “went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him (vs. 39b).” What application does this verse have for us?

Sermon Recap — January 28, 2018

Unshaken Community

Ed O’Mara
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
January 28, 2018
Sermon Audio unavailable

Introduction: Through adversity, God refines us. He makes our love purer; He strengthens our trust in and dependence on him. These trials will not break us; they are in God’s hands and are being used for his purposes… And in fact, he has ordained a mechanism through which we are strengthened, a means of grace to help us when we are tempted to disbelieve him and stray away. It is community. Relationship. The church.

Main Theme: God calls us into community to strengthen our faith and grow us through trial.

I.  Trials Test Our Faith

  • Paul’s eager desire (2:17) to return to Thessalonica was he eagerly desired to see a vibrant community of faith where the believers were standing strong together.
  • Paul knew the Thessalonians needed support. This is why Paul views their separation and the hindrances to reconnecting in face to face fellowship as a work of Satan (2:18).
  • God’s plan is NOT for you, or me, to navigate our life, our trials or even our successes alone. We need Him and we need the community in which he has placed us.

II. Community Strengthens Our Faith

  • Look at 3:2 – Paul says he sent Timothy as his emissary because he is a coworker in the gospel of Christ. In fact, he says Timothy is God’s coworker – Timothy wasn’t sent back to Thessalonica to build Paul’s empire or ministry – but to establish God’s people in God’s community.
  • There is only one way a community is established, there is only one way a community is strengthened in their faith. It is the preaching of the gospel. To preach Jesus’ perfect life, his death in our place and his resurrected reign over all anchors us in every area of life.
    • This is how our community is formed and built.
    • This is God’s plan and this is why Paul and the apostles risked life and limb to serve local churches from the dawn of the church age.
  • True community, the kind that is anchored in the gospel, is intertwined – meaning each person plays a part in anchoring one another.
    • The gospel that anchors us is shared by us.
    • It is what we carry with us into your relationships with one another.
  • Trials, persecution, adversity – whether from within or without, will test our faith.
    • If you are in trial, under persecution or feel that your faith is weak or wavering – don’t be like the weak gazelle at the back of the pack. Get near to your brothers and sisters.
    • Take advantage of the opportunities for biblical community.
    • Get to a CG if you don’t have one already.
    • Build relationship with other believers and make yourself known.
    • The more you extend yourself into community, the more strength you will have when the trials of life come.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • The trial of persecution tested the Thessalonian Christians’ faith. How do trials uniquely test our faith?
  • How does the preaching of the gospel establish community?
  • How does the preaching of the gospel strengthen community?
  • In the local church how does God use us to ‘anchor one another’ in times of trial and difficulty?
  • In what ways is your faith perhaps being tested now?
  • When was a time God used another believer/the church community to help strengthen your faith?
  • It was said — “The more you extend yourself into community, the more strength you will have when the trials of life come.” How does that play out practically?
  • Consider taking time to pray for one another in the trials individuals in the group are facing.

Sermon Recap — January 21, 2018

Grace and Truth

Jim Donohue
John 1:14-17
January 15, 2018
Sermon Audio

Introduction: This whole room can be divided into people that are more grace oriented when they interact with others….truth oriented. In reality we’re all a mix but we lean one way of another.

Main Theme: We display God’s glory when our lives overflow with grace and truth.

I. How can we be full of grace?

  • How can we fill ourselves up with grace? Focus your time, attention, effort, prayer, reading and study on the cross (gospel).
    • If the clearest demonstration of grace is found at cross then we need get as close to cross as we can. Martin Luther said, “I feel as if Jesus Christ died only yesterday.” Do we feel that?
  • At the cross we see how desperately and hopelessly lost we were.
    • We see the towering love of Christ that conquers all our fears and fulfills all our dreams.
    • We see unrelenting grace flowing to us from his pierced hands.
    • We see mercy and forgiveness and cleansing and adoption and election.
    • We see that we are nothing and he is everything.
    • We see the monstrous substitution of our sin for his righteousness.
    • And the closer we get to the cross the more “full of grace” we become.
    • Samuel in the temple – just a boy ministering with Eli.
    • He slept in the temple (near the ark) – wanted to be close to God (near).
    • That’s what God wants for us.
  • As we draw near to God through the cross it will help us to communicate with others. It will help us to be humble in our communication.
  • “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” — Col. 4:6

II. How can we be full of truth?

It has a lot to do with standing up and speaking truth of God’s word in a dark world.

  • The truth can’t be something we keep to ourselves. This point is for those who tend to focus more on grace.
  • There can be a lack of courage to engage our culture. There can be a lack of boldness or wisdom to share the gospel or talk about moral issues.
  • Jesus was full of grace and truth. He at times spoke hard truths.
  • There’s a push by some in the church in American to downplay truth and obedience and to overemphasize grace. It’s a grace that’s hollow and doesn’t have the necessity and horror of the cross at center.
  • So how can we fill ourselves up with truth?
  • It’s the same answer. Focus your time, attention, effort, prayer, reading and study on the cross (gospel).
  • If clearest demonstration of truth is found at cross then we need get as close to cross as we can.
    • At the cross we see our sin, judgement, God’s holiness and righteous wrath.
    • We see the punishment that all sin deserves.
    • We see our hopelessness apart from the truth of the gospel.
    • We see a world that can’t be saved by politics or policies. It can only be saved by Jesus Christ.
  • And the more we meditate on these things, the more we will open our mouths. We will overflow with truth – with what God says in his word.
  • “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” — Romans 10:14
  • “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” — 1 Peter 3:15
  • We display God’s glory when our lives overflow with grace and truth.
  • This principal applies to many areas of our lives.
    • It certainly applies to our evangelism and reaching out to those who don’t know Christ.
    • It applies to our marriages and how we speak to and treat our spouse.
    • It applies to parenting and how we communicate with co-workers.
    • It applies to relationships of any kind.
    • And it applies to our growth.

III. How does this apply to reaching out to our neighbors and co-workers and family members?

How do we bring grace and truth to a lost world?

  • We can tell others the good news of the gospel.
  • We can tell them about the love of the Savior and the hope of heaven. We need to speak truth with grace.
  • If we don’t speak to people about the gospel, who will?
  • A few thoughts to help you engage people you know.
    • Make friends with people (go out of your way to build friendships with people. Invite a co-worker to go to lunch with you or invite a neighbor over to watch the game).
    • Ask people questions (Do you go to church? Did you grow up in church?  Do you have any spiritual beliefs?  What do you think happens when you die?).
    • Serve people – this is one of best ways to build relationships. Do the jobs at work that no one else wants to do, find ways to help your neighbors, bake cookies or make meal.
    • Give resources – giving someone a book is a great way to get them thinking (The Reason for God) or give them a message to listen to (

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Would you identify yourself as more of a “grace person” or a “truth person?” Explain why you think of yourself as more of a “grace person” or a “truth person.”
  • What does it mean to be “full of grace”? How do we become full of grace?
  • What would it look like practically to overemphasize grace at the expense of truth in a conversation or relationship with a person who does not yet know Christ?
    • Can you recall a time when you overemphasized grace, perhaps at the expense of truth?
  • What would it look like practically to overemphasize truth at the expense of grace in a conversation or relationship with a person who does not yet know Christ?
  • How does the gospel itself emphasize and underscore both grace and truth?
  • How does the principle of grace and truth apply to parenting? To marriage?
  • What is one thing you want to take home and apply from this message?

Sermon Recap — January 14, 2018

Trusting The Savior In Storms

Chris Patton
Luke 8:22-25
January 14, 2018
Sermon Audio

Introduction: This story is about a storm. It’s about Jesus, how He is God and therefore has Divine power to calm the most frightening and scary of storms. It’s also about the call that goes out to every disciple to therefore wholeheartedly trust Him even when life’s trials threaten to overwhelm us.

Main Theme: Because Jesus is the powerful God of all, He is worthy of our wholehearted trust.

We looked at the details of story, then drew three lessons from this event related to the storms/trials we face:

I.  Expect storms to come

  • Jesus is the One who led the disciples into the storm.
  • Jesus knew there was going to be a fearful, terrifying storm on the sea that night, yet he still got into the boat and said to his disciples ‘let’s go across to the other side.’
  • This reminds us that part of faithfully following Jesus is following him into the storms.
  • Essential to walking through the storms of life well is to live with the awareness that storms are a normal, expected part of the Christian life (See John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Phil. 1:29; also 1 Peter 4:12) .
  • God has sovereignly ordained specific storms and trials for each one of us to sail into.
  • We don’t know what trials/storms lie ahead. We also don’t always know why a particular storm comes our way. We do know that in every trial God is sovereignly and yet often mysteriously up to something good (Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:12)

II. Know Who is with you in the storm

  • In vs.25 Jesus asks his disciples “Where is your faith?”
  • When the storm came, the disciples panicked. They were utterly terrified, in part because they failed to recognized Who was with them in the boat–God Himself.
  • In the storms of our lives, that even if at times it seems is if our Lord is asleep in the stern of the boat if you will, we need not panic, we need not be overcome with fear–our Sovereign God and Savior is with us the midst of whatever fearful trials and tribulations we may face.

III. Exercise your faith

  • One of the things this story powerfully illustrates is that it is not enough to have faith, that faith must also be exercised; it must also be applied.
  • Even though disciples at this time didn’t fully grasp who Jesus’ identity, they still had sufficient knowledge of Jesus to trust him more than they did. They had seen Jesus’ perform mighty miracles. They had seen Him preach with authority.

“Faith is a refusal to panic. Do you like that sort of definition of faith? Does that seem to be too earthly and not  sufficiently spiritual? It is of the very essence of faith. Faith is a refusal to panic, come what may.” – Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones (Spiritual Depression)

“Having taken that first step, having pulled yourself up, you then remind yourself of what you believe and what you know. That again is something these foolish disciples did not do. If only they had stopped a moment and said: ‘Now then what about it? Is it possible that we are going to drown with Him in the boat? Is there anything He cannot do? We have seen His miracles, He turned the water into wine, He can heal the blind and the lame, He can even raise the dead, is it likely that He is going to allow us and Himself to be drowned in this way? Impossible! In any case He loves us, He cares for us, He has told us that the very hairs of our head are all numbered!’ That is the way in which faith reasons. It says: ‘All right, I see the waves and the billows but’ — it always puts up this ‘but’. That is faith, it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact. That is the way to apply faith. These men did not do that and that is why they became agitated and panic stricken.” — Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones (Spiritual Depression)


When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

– How Firm A Foundation

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • How does this narrative display the humanity of Jesus? How does seeing Jesus’ humanity in the passage encourage you?
  • How does this narrative display the deity of Jesus Christ? How does seeing Jesus’ divine power in this passage encourage you?
  • Jesus knew there was going to be a fearful, terrifying storm on the sea that night, yet he still got into the boat and said to his disciples ‘let’s go across to the other side.’ What lessons can be drawn from this?
  • Why is it necessary to walking through the storms of life well to expect storms/trials to come?
  • What difference can it make in times of trial and suffering when we remember that Jesus is with us “in the boat”?
  • Re-read the first Lloyd Jones quote above,  “Faith is the refusal to panic….” Why do you think we so easily panic when trials and suffering come upon us? If we applied this definition of faith to our lives, what difference would that make practically?
  • Re-read the second Lloyd Jones quote above, “Having taken that first step….” When you’ve walked through trials how have you sought to apply your faith in this way? How do you seek to speak truth to yourself?