Monthly Archives: January 2015

Preparing for Worship – February 1, 2015

 

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This week, we continue our series In Him by studying Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

For such a short passage, these verses are rich, aren’t they? We will see two big points together on Sunday:

  • Because we are beloved children of God, we imitate God
  • Because Christ redeemed us, we walk in love

Join us this this Sunday as we rejoice in the fact that God has adopted us as his children and we have been redeemed through Christ.

 

Preparing to sing together

To prepare to sing together, check out these helpful links:

Doxology (Listen)

Psalm 18 (Listen | Purchase)

Made Alive (Listen | Purchase)

Jesus Paid It All (Listen & Download)

Be Thou My Vision (Listen | Purchase)

Rock of Ages (Listen | Purchase)

Jesus! (Listen | Purchase)

See you on Sunday.

Preparing for Worship – January 25, 2015

 

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This week, we continue our series In Him by studying Ephesians 4:25-32

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Paul continues to advocate unity within the church with his calls to action in these verses. Notice that each of the commands found in these verses are related to how our actions affect one another. In fact, he gives 5 commands in these verses:

  • Replace lies with truth (v. 25)
  • Replace anger with reconciliation (vv. 26-27)
  • Replace stealing with working (v. 28)
  • Replace hurtful words with helpful words (vv. 29-30)
  • Replace hatred with kindness (vv. 31-32)

The challenge, of course, with commands like these is that because of our sin, we often fall short. In fact, even when we try really hard in our own strength, we still find ourselves unable to live up to these commands. That’s when it is of utmost importance to remind ourselves that our righteousness is found in Christ alone. It is because of his perfect life that we have been saved. And it is through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are empowered to change to become more and more like Christ in these ways.

This Sunday, we will be singing one of my favorite songs, Poison Tree. This song paints a beautiful picture of how we cannot manufacture righteousness in our own strength:

I tried to tie good fruit to a tree that had poison all the way through / It rotted and fell off, it was dead to the core / It even killed the ground, I was worse than before.

We see in those lyrics a powerful image of what it looks like when we try to manufacture good works in our own strength. Rotten, dead fruit. In contrast, the fruit of righteousness must be produced by the work of God in us. The song makes a plea for God to do this work:

Come and dig me up, reach down to the roots / Rip the deadness out and plant something new / I am alive, I will abide in the life giving blood of Christ / I’m grafted in, You’ve killed my sin / Now I will live, I’ll live in Him.

That should be our prayer each and every day, shouldn’t it?

 

Preparing to sing together

To prepare to sing together, check out these helpful links:

Hail the King (Listen | Purchase)

Poison Tree (Listen | Purchase)

Before the Throne (Listen | Purchase)

Jude Doxology (Listen | Purchase)

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (Listen | Purchase)

See you on Sunday.

Preparing For Worship – January 18, 2015

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This week, we continue our series In Him by studying Ephesians 4:17-24

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This passage is in some ways reminiscent of Ephesians 2 in how it shows a person’s state before the saving work of Christ in their lives. Futile in their minds, darkened in understanding, alienated from God, hard of heart, callous, etc.

We know from Ephesians 2:4-5 that God is “rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” That’s what Paul is referring to here in chapter 4, verse 20 when he says “that is not the way you learned Christ.” He is saying that if you have been transformed through the gospel of Jesus Christ, then your life should begin to reflect Jesus more and more by putting off the old self, being renewed in the spirit of your minds by God and putting on the new self.

 

Preparing to sing together

To prepare to sing together, check out these helpful links:

We Are Listening (Listen | Purchase)

By His Grace (Listen | Purchase)

Grace Alone (Listen | Purchase)

Christ, Or Else I Die (Listen | Purchase)

My One Comfort (Listen | Purchase)

See you on Sunday.

Learning to Pray from Ephesians 3:14-21

*(This message was originally written to the people of The Town Church on January 8th)

Greetings Friends,

On December 28th we looked at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. We have received quite a bit of feedback about our time together in that passage (Ephesians 3:14-21). Some have said it was helpful to learn from Paul how to pray for other believers. Others have said they still feel overwhelmed by the idea of praying for others in the ways Paul has modeled.

During our time together in that text I encouraged us to take seriously our prayers for others and to consider making it a resolution for 2015. How is that going?

In an effort to help you in your continued efforts of praying for others, I thought I would give us a few practical tips.

1.) Many of you were out of town on December 28th. If you were out of town and have not yet had a chance to listen to the sermon – start there. Listen to the sermon. You can find it HERE. This particular sermon was on December 28th and is called Learning to Approach, Ask and Adore God(Ephesians 3:14-21).

2.) Secondly, I want to encourage you to put into practice the pattern of prayer we see from Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21.

  • Approach God
  • Ask God
  • Adore God

3.) I’ve talked about an app that has been helpful in my prayers for others. It is called Echo. It is an app specifically designed to help in the habit and discipline of prayer. You can find the app here. Begin using it. Set up reminders at different times throughout the day to pray for others in the church.

4.) I’ve talked to a few people who are already praying for several people using Paul’s example. I’ve talked to a few others who have said that it would be helpful to have a written example of this prayer. Below is a prayer I have written using Paul’s pattern of Approach/Ask/Adore. Feel free to use this as you begin the habit of praying for other believers. There is nothing magical to the following prayer. It is an example to get you started. You can and should pray this in your own words for those you know and love.

As a church, let’s pursue the face of God as we approach him through the Son, as we ask him to answer our prayers and as we adore him because he is worthy of all of our affection, adoration and worship.

             SAMPLE PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 3:14-21

APPROACH: Begin by kneeling, closing your eyes, lifting your hands, holding hands with others – proceed with some kind of action that reveals a mindful approach to God.

Father, I approach you knowing that you have blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. You have chosen us before the foundation of the world. You have predestined us for adoption. You have redeemed us through the blood of your Son. You have forgiven our sins. You are our Father who loves us in ways we will never fully understand. You know me by name. You know the names of everyone you have adopted to be a part of your family. Father, I approach you knowing these things to be fully true of you.

ASKIt is because you are a loving Father that I can ask you according to the riches of your glory that you would strengthen ________ with power through your Spirit. Specifically Father, I ask that you would strengthen _______ internally. Would you help them to understand more and more the truths of the gospel. Would you help them to understand more and more the depths of their sin and their need for Jesus. Would you help them to apply that internally to their hearts. Father, I ask that you would strengthen _________ internally. 

Father, I also ask that you would increase the faith of _______ and that they would experience Christ’s dwelling presence as they walk with you today. I ask that you would help them to believe that Christ came to dwell among us – and that when he ascended to take his throne, he left the Spirit to indwell us. Father, I ask that they would sense the indwelling presence of Christ today. 

Father, I also ask that you would help _______ to understand the multi-faceted love of Jesus. Help them to understand the limitless love of Jesus – the love that caused him to give his life as a ransom for our sins. Would you help them to understand more and more the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ.  Even as you help them to comprehend Christ’s love, I ask that you would help them to understand that the limitless love of Christ surpasses their limited knowledge. It’s beyond our comprehension. Father, I ask that you would cause that understanding to increase their affections for Jesus. I ask that you would guard them from frustration and doubt about the fact that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. Increase their affections and adoration for Jesus.

Finally Father, I ask that you would fill _______ with all the fullness of yourself. Fill them with greater thoughts of you. Fill them with a greater desire to see more of you and be filled with your presence. 

ADORE: And now Father, I offer up these prayers to you knowing that you are able to do far more than anything I could ask or even think to ask. I’m sure there is more I could pray. I’m sure there is more I could ask of you. You are able to do far more abundantly than anything I could ask of you for ________. You are the one who has given us power to accomplish the things you have set before us to accomplish. You are the one who has given us power to be strengthened internally, to know the love of Christ and to understand that the love of Christ surpasses our understanding. You are the one who has given us this power. 

It is to you alone that glory is due in the church. You alone are the one who is to be glorified in the body you have called, chosen, predestined and redeemed. You are most glorious in the church and in Christ Jesus your Son. 

You are to be praised, honored, glorified, worshipped adored yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever and ever throughout all eternity. 

Amen.

Preparing for Worship – January 11, 2015

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This week, we continue our series In Him by studying Ephesians 4:7-16

7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Last week we saw that unity should mark the life of the church. This week, we that while we should be eager to seek unity, Christ gave diversity to the church (vv. 7-11). Christ desires maturity in the church (vv. 12-14). And that Christ is the head of the diverse, mature, unified church (vv. 15-16).

 

Preparing to sing together

To prepare to sing together, check out these helpful links:

Praise to The Lord (Listen | Purchase)

I Surrender All (Listen | Purchase)

Jesus Paid It All (Listen & Download)

Nothing But The Blood (Listen | Purchase)

My God My Father (Listen | Purchase)

See you on Sunday.