Communion Of The Saints

SERMON NOTES

Creed / Rev. Jim Toole

Ephesians 2:19-22

Communion Of The Saints

Today we are going to look at the theology of the Church.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints.

Theme: The hope of the church rests on our relying on the foundations of the Church

The Greek word for church is Ecclesia. It translates into “being called out” and literally means an “assembly.” Another word in the New Testament for the church is Kuriakon, which means “belonging to the Lord.”

If you put these two concepts together it translates as “the assembly that belongs to Jesus”.

The Four Marks of the Church is a term describing four distinct adjectives of the Church:

The Church is One

We together share the light of Christ to the world. Alone our lights are dim but together we are a spotlight that shines toward Christ. We are one Church united in Christ.

The Church is Holy

To be the church we are called to be set apart and to share life with fellow Christians.

The Church is Catholic

So what we are really trying to say in the Apostles’ Creed is that we believe in the Church universal, that we are one church united throughout history of the past and united to believers in the future.

The Church is Apostolic

The Church, for all of its strengths and weaknesses, is not to exist solely for itself. The Church is a movement of the apostles, from the very beginning, to carry out the great commission.

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I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Creed / Rev. Connie Randall

John 14: 15-21, 25-27

“I Believe in the Holy Spirit”

Today we look at Who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, and why the Holy Spirit matters.

When we speak about the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, we are speaking of God’s active work in our lives; of God’s way of leading us, guiding us, forming and shaping us; of God’s power and presence to comfort and encourage us and to make us the people God wants us to be. The Spirit is the voice of God whispering, wooing and beckoning us. (Adam Hamilton/Creed)

The word spirit shows up about 500 times in the Bible.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated as “spirit” is ruach.

In the New Testament the Greek word translated as “spirit” is pneuma.

The Hebrew and Greek have multiple meanings – including breath, air, wind, and spirit

Jesus calls the Spirit the paraclete, meaning close by, very near, beside, an advocate, comforter, and helper.

“If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.” John 14:15-17a (NIV)

Who is the Holy Spirit to you?

What are the voices you listen to daily?

How will you begin to ask Jesus to help you listen to His voice, the Holy Spirit?  Use your gift card!

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"Why Jesus"

SERMON NOTES  

Creed

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

“Why Jesus”

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

He ascended into heaven,

is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Why would people die for Jesus? What compels followers of Christ to forsake their life to follow the ways of Jesus? Why Jesus?

Before we can answer the “why” let’s look at the “what.”

Christians throughout church history hold a few key beliefs about Jesus.

1. Jesus was God incarnate

2. Jesus as God came to us in humble circumstances

3. Jesus dies on the cross to bring wholeness to all of creation.

Ransom view –

Satisfaction or Penal substitution view –

Sacrificial view -

4. Jesus will return in full glory

I believe this is understanding of Who Jesus is, what He has done for us in the past, and what He will do for us for all of eternity. This is at the core of understanding why people are willing to sacrifice everything and risk even their lives to follow Jesus. No matter what this life brings, either blessing or pain, we have an eternal hope!

 

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I Believe in God the Father Almighty

Sermon Notes
Creed
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole

Genesis 21:15–19

“I Believe in God, the Father Almighty”

Today we are starting our new sermon series about the Apostles’ Creed and what
Christians believe and why. The Apostles’ Creed was primarily used historically, as a confession of faith for those about to be baptized.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Throughout church history and even today we have different writers, preachers, and heroes of the faith that emphasize one aspect of God while leaving out another. So what often happens is our perception of God becomes too narrow or too small.

Scripture allows us to see the fullness of God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 (NRSV) …For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:31 (NRSV)  …Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, He will neither abandon you nor destroy you; He will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that He swore to them.

Matthew 22:32 (NRSV)  …”’I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.”

Revelation 22:13 (NRSV)  …”I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Theme: God is Creator, powerful yet personal.

God is Creator (Transcendent) –

God is Personal (Immanent) –

Questions for Reflection:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

What does that mean for you? Who is your God?

What is your God in your life?

Do you focus more on the Transcendence or Immanence of God?

 

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Looking Forward: Words and Deeds

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Acts 11:22-26

“Looking Forward: Words and Deeds”

Theme: Communicating our faith is about words and deeds saturated in relationship.

We are all called to live out our faith in word and in deed. This is hard enough but here is the real kicker.

How do we communicate our faith in words and deeds when the primary form of communication is digital; emails, text, and social media?

How do we communicate our faith when a primary mode of communication is not in physical space (face to face) rather electronic space?

How do we be a Barnabas on Facebook? How would Francis of Assisi navigate social media?

As a church, we do not have any simple answers. But we do know this needs to be one of our priorities as a church for the next several years, figuring out how to truly communicate and leverage our digital age. For every challenge, there are opportunities not only for our church but the greater church for possible ways to leverage the new technological world we live in for the Kingdom of God.

Questions to Ponder:

How well do I express my faith in the way I live?

Do I have spiritual conversations with folks outside of traditional faith?

On social media am I more interested in fostering relationship or projecting an image of myself?

How do I have spiritual conversations with friends on social media?

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Looking Forward: The True Foundation

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke 6:46-49

“Looking Forward: The True Foundation”

Many of us can feel ill equipped to fully know how to fuel our faith. This is exactly why discipleship is one of the key priorities for our church. We want to equip you as followers of Christ.

So what does it mean to be a disciple? Or I will rephrase it, What does it look like for you to be a disciple?

Greg Ogden in the book “Discipleship Essentials” describes a disciple as one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.

Dallas Willard describes discipleship as life of obedience to Jesus’ teaching and a life led by the Holy Spirit.

I want to focus on both as discipleship; life of obedience and life in the Spirit.

Discipleship as a life of obedience.

Discipleship as a life in the Spirit.

Some of us come from church backgrounds where all the emphasis on discipleship or following Christ is put on the person’s effort to work harder and try harder.

Others of us come from a church background that is on the other side of the pendulum, that where all the emphasis is not on any action on our part but purely on receiving God’s grace in our lives through the Spirit.

Discipleship is a combination of dependence on the Holy Spirit and obediently following Christ. This is a lifelong process. The two combined together allow Jesus Christ to come alive in us.

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Looking Forward: Rooted and Engaged

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Mat Grover
Hebrews 10:23–25

“Looking Forward: Rooted and Engaged”

The Church is just like High School.

We need to live (make friends, hang out, be real), not only close to each other, but we must also be vulnerable with God and with our neighbors. Our relationships cannot just be horizontal, but also vertical towards God. 

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted
to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but
encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”

“You teach a little by what you say. You teach most by what you are.” 
Henrietta C. Mears

Homework:

Where is God calling you to connect with Him and with others?

 

Where is God calling you to fill a need in this congregation?

 

Looking Forward: God Dreams

SERMON NOTES
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
2 Samuel 7:1–13

“Looking Forward: God Dreams”

Today we start our new sermon series called Looking Forward. The hope of this sermon series is that we can look at it on parallel tracks. What does it mean for us to move forward as individuals and what does it mean for us to move forward as a church?

Theme: We are called as a church and as individuals to have God Dreams!

As a church and as individuals looking forward we have to be careful not to immediately assume that our dreams are God’s dreams.

Throughout Scripture there are stories after stories of characters like King Saul, the
Israelites, and other characters whose own dreams were more important than God’s dreams and eventually they ended up lost. But when we as individuals and as a church can sync our dreams into God’s dreams beautiful things are born.

Priority Action Learning Team Report (Kevin Oxnam)

Church Priority 1 -

Church Priority 2 -

Church Priority 3 -

What are some of your priorities/rhythms you want to chart this fall?

Spiritual life -

Family Life -

Work Life -

Exercise -

Does Jesus Procrastinate?

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 11:17-27

“Does Jesus Procrastinate?”

Today we are finishing up our sermon series on miracles. We have been looking at the seven miracles of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Today we will be looking at Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead.

As we end our series, I want to make three observations about miracles and the power of God.

First, God’s timing is not always our timing.

Second observation about miracles is that we need to open our eyes and hearts to the power of God in our lives.

The third observation about miracles is that God can do the possible out of the impossible.

The reason I wanted to do a sermon series on miracles is I believe many of us can grow stagnant in our faith. Our faith becomes dormant. We assume that all we know about God is all we will ever know. We assume all we have ever experienced about God we have already experienced. But when you add the power of God to our faith lives, all bets are off. Jesus continues to make things new every morning. Jesus is about resurrecting our lives. Rebirth is not just about salvation, rebirth is about a life with Christ where we let our everyday lives intersect with the power of God.

Homework:

Where have you seen miracles in your life?

Where in your life now do you need to experience the power of God?

Light of the World

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 9:1-11

“Light of the World”

Jesus in this miracle of healing a blind man from birth is a sign that Jesus and the Kingdom of God is breaking into the darkness. Jesus is saying there will be light. I am making all things new. Maybe what Jesus is doing in our lives does not seem as spectacular as making a blind person see but what Jesus is doing in all of our lives if we are willing to open our eyes and heart is making all things new.

Theme: Jesus was claiming to be the light of the world.

The themes throughout the Gospels of Redemption and Resurrection is about Jesus bringing back to life the things that seem dead. Our circumstances can seem so overwhelming but even in the midst of the darkness God can do miracles by shining forth in spite of it all.

Goshen International Church and Community Center

Born out of the long term friendship and ministry partnership between pastors Bigimba Ngabo and Gary Stokes, a multi-cultural church and community center seeking to bridge cultures and provide ongoing support for refugees, and indeed all those who need help with life, is just beginning. 

Imagine a gathering place where many local churches can join to impact people for Christ who are in great need through a dedicated community center.

Imagine a unique place of worship catching young refugees, people of all colors and languages, of all ages and experiences who choose to be together because of the love of Jesus.

 

The Mystery of the Miraculous

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:16-21

“The Mystery of the Miraculous”

In a technological world we are not always comfortable with mystery. We want explanations for the unknown. The age of Enlightenment ushered in reason and science, all good things, but this quest to explain the unexplainable leads us to some gaps. I believe these gaps lead us to the beauty and mystery of God. 

Theme: When God shows up in your life, do not try to explain it. Simply embrace the mystery of the miraculous in your life.

We respond different ways when Jesus shows up in our lives unexpectedly.

First, we can just ignore it.

The second way we respond is we just intellectualize God out of our lives.

The third way we respond is the miracles of God can make us appreciate the mystery of God.

We live in a day and age where I see people going through the motions and are less lead by their faith and more led by their to do list or their email inbox. It is easy with all the distractions to go to numb to the very fullness of life that is right in front of us. What if we are developing cataracts to our soul that prevent us from seeing clearly the mystery, beauty, and power that God has created right before us.

What if Jesus is showing up in our lives walking on water but we just happen to be looking the other way?

 

Miracle Middle Manager

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:1-15

“Miracle Middle Manager”

As we are doing a sermon series on miracles, one of the greatest lessons we must learn through the Bible is that often God does indeed do miracles in this day in age, but his preferred way of doing them is through you and me. We are miracle middle managers. We are the right people at the right time, that if we so choose, we can allow ourselves to be part of a miracle.

So far in this sermon series we have focused on miracles primarily in relationship to our needs, but today we want to focus on us being miracles for others.

Theme: You and I can be vessels for God’s miracles.

The creator of the universe chooses you and me in all our brokenness to be his vessels, his instruments of mercy and power to a world that is in need. Today I want to say God is nudging us, sending us to be his vessels to be his miracles; but we must have our heart and eyes open to God’s nudges, large or small, that are all around us.

God is saying to you and me, “whom shall I send?”

The question is how will we respond?

But here is the catch, often the miracles God orchestrates through us at the time do not seem that spectacular. As we are just going through life being faithful to the nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit, God takes the ordinary and turns them into the extraordinary for someone else.

We are all miracles if we so choose to be!

 

 

Get Up and Walk

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 5:1-9

“Get Up and Walk”

Over the years, as a Pastor I have encountered folks who feel like an accident, more who feel stuck, others who feel lost, and many whose dreams for themselves did not turn out like the expectation they or others had of them. Today we are going to look at an individual in John 5 who was lost and stuck almost his whole life. I believe when Jesus healed him he did not just heal him physically, but healed his heart with a sense of purpose.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  (NRSV)

We often say with our lips we want more of God in our lives. But do we really? Do we want the Creator of the Universe meddling in our lives?

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives, we must first be willing for God to intervene.

8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  (NRSV)

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives we must also take steps of trust.

Change is scary, even healing is scary because when Jesus says get up and walk, we can assume that Jesus is going to lead us somewhere. As we start to let Jesus intervene and meddle in our lives, over time we start to take small steps of trust. Many of us want external miracles! We want God’s intervention in our circumstances. But maybe, just maybe we need God to do an internal miracle first in our heart if we are to truly understand miracles and the power of God. If we want to have purpose and power in our lives we first must let God intervene and do miracles in our hearts by helping us to become willing and help us take steps of trust.

Questions:
1. Why does Jesus ask the man if he wants to be healed? What is that about?
2. Why do you think it would have been hard for the man to hear Jesus words get up and walk?
3. What prevents us from being healed?

 

Word and Spirit

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 4:46-54

“Word and Spirit”

The “Word” versus the “Spirit.” It is a great divide. Many churches and denominations are characterized by one over the other. They emphasize one and give lip service to the other. If churches could truly discover how to bring these two priorities together, the simultaneous combination would be a spontaneous combustion. That is my hope and prayer for our church, that we would be people of the Word and people of the Spirit.

People of the Word
There are times that we want to see a miracle, we want to see a sign, we want to see the power of God, and God just seems silent. It is in those times we are called to trust God’s promises, to trust our theology of God’s sovereignty, to trust God’s love for us. It is in these moments we learn to be less dependent on the spectacular and dependent on the word of God that we see in Scriptures.

People of the Spirit
We as Christians are called people of the Bible. We study and learn. But we can analyze our faith literally, at times, to death. We are called to be people of the Word, but we are also called to be people of the Spirit. Our faith and relationship with our Savior is meant to be new every morning. The Spirit allows us to discover new vitality.

So how do we be people, a church that is both dependent on Word and Spirit?
How do we become people who are tethered to God’s promises, but looking for the power of God in this world and in our lives?

Theme: It requires us to be people that trust and pray!

Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, is based on the idea that all of us can create prayer circles where we pray around an issue with boldness. Much like the Israelites who marched around Jericho praying for God’s power, we can all become circle makers. There is a deeply personal dimension to all of this. We can encircle our family, our job, our problems, and our goals in bold prayer.

 

Lift the Veil

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 2:1-11

“Lift the Veil”

This sermon series is less about understanding miracles and more about awakening to the power of God. In the book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson explores the seven miraculous signs of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Over the next seven weeks we will do the same hoping that as we see these signs of the power of God in the Gospel of John we can also see God’s miraculous power today.

Theme: Open your eyes and heart to the power of God.

Purification Ritual Reversed with Jesus
In changing water into wine Jesus is crashing any barriers to the power of God. Purification was no longer about ritual and Jewish Law it was about Jesus. New wine: new cleansing, new intimacy, new joy, is open to all who are willing to follow Jesus.

The Veil was lifted with Jesus
There is a Hebrew concept called “Shekinah Glory” that comes from the Hebrew word, “shekinot.” It represents the miraculous dwelling of God with his people. God’s presence was manifested by the intense light that filled the Tabernacle, in the Temple in Jerusalem, “Shekinah Glory.” This “Shekinah Glory” this dwelling place of God was in the chamber of the “Holy of Holies” in the Temple that was covered with a veil that separated God’s glory and power from the people. But we know that when Jesus died on the cross and his side was pierced the veil suddenly ripped. Jesus crashed the barrier to the power of God. Jesus death on the cross represents our access to the power of God through Jesus.

My prayer for you and me is to lift the veil in our lives that separate us from fully awakening to the power of God in our lives.
Lift the veil!

Questions:
Why is there a lack of wonder and mystery in our lives today?
What barriers do we create to keep ourselves from fully embracing the power of God?
How can we access more the power of God in our lives?

 

Love To Belong

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Mat Grover
Small But Mighty
3 John

“Love To Belong”

3rd  John is the smallest book in the entire Bible. Although, 2nd John has fewer verses (13), 3rd John contains only 219 words, as compared to 2nd John at 245 words.

In each of the 3 John Letters, the author is reacting to a conflict within a number of house churches. 1st John writes to the group of churches confirming the teachings of Jesus and the truth that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah. 2nd John is a letter to a specific house church warning them about corrupt teachers that might try and infiltrate their community. 3rd John is addressed to a specific person, warning against a particular leader who is perpetuating the lies, and refusing to collaborate with John.

3rd John
I. Opening (verses 1-4)
- Greeting Gaius
- Praying for Health, Rejoicing in Truth

II.  Body (verses 5-12)
- Supporting God’s Missionaries
- Condemning Diotrephes
- Commending Demetrius

III.  Closing (verses 13-15)
- Regrets, Hopes and Greetings

“The Christian family circle should always be wide enough to have a place for strangers, wherever they come from.” – William Barclay

Homework:

What does it mean for us to walk in the light?

What are the ways that we as a church and as individuals are working towards Jesus like hospitality?

 

Forgiveness Is Everything

Sermon Notes
Small but Mighty
Rev. Mat Grover
Philemon

“Forgiveness Is Everything”

Paul’s Epistle to Philemon is the apostle’s shortest writing.  It is only 25 verses containing 335 words. There are only three books in the entire Bible that are smaller. 

Paul’s message to Philemon was a simple one: based on the work of love and forgiveness that had been wrought in Philemon’s heart by God, show the same to the escaped and now believing slave Onesimus.

Outline of Philemon:
Philemon 1-3: Opening greetings
Philemon 4-7: Philemon is commended for his faith and charity
Philemon 8-20: Paul’s request regarding Onesimus
Philemon 21-22: Paul’s expectation to visit
Philemon 23-25: Concluding words and benediction

The letter to Philemon reminds us that God’s revelation to humanity is intensely personal. Philemon stands as one piece of strong evidence revealing that lofty doctrines such as the love of God, forgiveness in Christ, or the inherent dignity of humanity have real and pertinent impact in everyday life. The book of Philemon illustrates that principles like these can and should profoundly affect the lives of believers.

Homework:
In what areas in your life do you need to ask for forgiveness?

Where do you need to seek reconciliation?

 

God Who Is Able

Sermon Notes
Small But Mighty
Rev. Mat Grover
Jude 24-25

“God Who Is Able”

The four smallest books of the New Testament are Jude, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John.  Jude contains 461 words in 25 verses. 

Jude 20-25
“24Now to God Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (NIV)

God who is able: 
Romans 16:25 — God Who is able to strengthen us.

Ephesians 3:20 — God Who is able to do more than we ask or imagine.

Jude — God Who is able to make us sure footed, blameless, bring us into His presence.

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you!”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

Outpost to the Kingdom

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Women in the Bible
Acts 18:1-3

“Outpost to the Kingdom”

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by all the stories in the Bible but even more than just the stories, I love the different characters in the Bible. All the great heroes were flawed people, I guess that has always given me hope. But I also love the smaller characters in scripture as well, not necessarily heroes but folks who had a significant role. Many of these characters were women. Today we are going to look at another early church leader, Priscilla.

What do we learn from this story of Priscilla and Aquila?

They took literally the commandment of Jesus to love their neighbor.

Loving our neighbor starts in our home.

Loving our neighbor starts with mentoring.

(Graphic) The Art of Neighboring – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon