Rev. Jim Toole/ Anxious for Nothing
Sovereignty of God
This week we are starting a five-week sermon series based on the book, Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Max Lucado describes four admonitions that lead to the wonderful promise of peace:
· Rejoice in the Lord
· Ask God for Help
· Leave your concerns with Him
· Meditate on Good Things
Rejoicing in the Lord
For Paul rejoicing was a byproduct of an internal confidence in the sovereignty of God.
Theme: Rejoicing is not just a feeling, but equally a decision to be deeply rooted in the confidence that God is in control and that God is good.
Sovereignty is a fancy theological term that has been used throughout Church History meaning God is the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists.
At the core of our Theology has to be the sovereignty of God. When small tears of doubt penetrate this core belief then suddenly we find ourselves taking matters in our own hands, we feel like we have to control things and eventually we can feel the weight of the world. When we wash ourselves with the truth - that we have a God and Savior Who is carrying not only the ills and tragedies of the world but is carrying our burdens as well - it is water to our soul. Being rooted in the Confidence that God is in control and God is good starts to filter and cleanse the anxiety that often haunts us.
Rev. Mat Grover
“Live Every Day”
“Live Every Day”
Jonathan Swift who wrote Gulliver’s Travels had an unusual greeting for others- “May you live every day of your life!”
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
1. Forget yesterday – build on it – build from it
2. Live today – where you are – giving all you have
3. Trust tomorrow – because God is there
Are we as individuals and as a church living “every day of our lives”? Are we living abundantly?
In the new year, what do we need to do, as a church and as individuals to live life fully and press on towards the goal of Jesus Christ?
Joseph / Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
“The Beautiful Rhythm”
Theme: “Seeing an Angel” and “Being an Angel.”
We are called to experience the power of God and be the power of God to others. It is this beautiful rhythm for Advent, the holidays, actually for life where we encounter God and we respond. There is a fine line between the light of Christ we receive and the light of Christ we share with others. It is often intertwined, sometimes indistinguishable. Encounter and response is not just a rhythm we do, eventually it becomes an infusion of who we are becoming.
First, we must experience the power of God.
It all starts with opening our heart for God’s power to indeed do a miracle in our lives. My hope during this Christmas season is that all of us can slow down just enough so we can encounter God afresh.
What is the Christmas miracle you need in this season?
Where do you need a message from God?
Where do you need to encounter Jesus?
Second, we must be the power of God to others.
My prayer for all of us this Christmas season is for us to experience God’s power but also be God’s power. Again, it is this beautiful rhythm where we encounter God and we respond. Often God’s miracles are through people like you and me.
During the Christmas season we feel pressure to experience joy. It can feel at times that we are trying to manufacture joy, but joy really comes when we experience peace within our soul. Again, there is this fusion of experiencing joy and being joy for others.
1. As you experience a miracle, who are you called to be a miracle to?
2. As you experience God’s power, how are you to demonstrate God’s power?
3. As you experience the light of Christ in your life, where are you called to be the light of Christ.
4. Where are you called to be and give joy?
Joseph / Rev. Jim Toole
Today we are on the second week of our Advent sermon series where we are looking at Christmas through the eyes of Joseph.
Theme: The Redemptive Story of God Is Messy
I. The story of God coming to us as Jesus, the incarnation is messy.
II. Jesus’ ministry is often messy.
III. The Cross is messy.
IV. Through the resurrection there is blessing and redemption.
The Redemptive Story is indeed messy because redemption is about God turning our messiness and brokenness into a blessing.
In Matthew, the Christmas Story, the story of Jesus, the story of God becoming one of us, starts off with a scandal. Mary becomes pregnant and Joseph is not the father. Joseph faced a dilemma, he could call off the marriage, but in this culture, this would bring extreme shame upon Mary and in some circumstances, she could be stoned to death. The other option would be to divorce her and Mary would not be disgraced, rather he would. Joseph decided not to take the easy road but the higher road even though it was going to leave him with a lifetime of shame.
If we want to experience restoration/redemption then we must first acknowledge our mess.
If we want to experience restoration/redemption then we must also reveal ourselves.
• We must reveal ourselves to ourselves.
• We must reveal ourselves to God
• We must reveal ourselves to others.
Question: During this Advent season what reality do you need to face, large or small, to acknowledge and reveal to God?
Joseph / Rev. Jim Toole
1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Today we are starting a new sermon series looking at Joseph of Nazareth. The primary resource I will be using is the book, Faithful by Adam Hamilton. We often hear more about Mary in the birth narrative. There is relatively little in Scripture, only sixteen verses in the Bible mention Joseph by name.
Theme: Faithfulness is trusting God and following His call even when we do not understand it all.
Joseph had a very important role in the redemptive story of all of creation. But he never got to see the fulfillment of it in his lifetime.
N.T. Wright describes that often we Christians are content with separating our future hope from present responsibility. If God is going to transform this present world and renew our whole selves ,then Paul reminds us that we are not to sit idle in the here and now waiting for our future. Rather we are to live faithfully in the present. Your labor is not in vain.
Faithfulness really is about asking ourselves:
“Who” and “How” is God calling me to live right now in my life? Not yesterday, not tomorrow but in the here and now.
Faithfulness is taking one step forward at a time even when it does not make sense.
What does being faithful look like for you in this season of your life?
Wesley Challenge / Rev. Jim Toole
Relationship With God: an Upward Focus
Methodist Pastor Chris Folmsbee is one of the first to take the 21 Questions of the Holy Club and turn them into a 21 day devotional for self-reflection and spiritual growth. This devotional, The Wesley Challenge, has taken off across our country and churches are challenging their members to take the 21 Day Wesley Challenge, and so do I challenge all of you.
Upward Focus (Questions 1-7)
Is Jesus real to me?
Am I enjoying prayer?
Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscious is uneasy?
Did the Bible live in me today?
Did I disobey God in anything?
Do I pray about the money I spend?
Do I give time for the Bible to speak to me every day?
Is Jesus real to me?
Who is Jesus to you? What would your quote about Jesus be?
Jesus is to me…
Am I enjoying prayer? Did the Bible live in me today?
There is an underlying assumption in these questions that we need relationship with God. When we dissect Jesus philosophically or even theologically or when we put Jesus into a box we lose sight that ultimately Jesus needs to be defined not just by what we believe of Him but how we relate to Him. How we relate with Jesus starts affecting what we believe of Jesus.
Knowing God versus Experiencing God
We need to know Jesus with our heart and mind?
My hope as we go through the Wesley challenge and prayerfully ask ourselves these 21 questions that it will stir a small awakening in our souls.
Stewardship/ Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
After lots of feedback, research, discernment and discussion we discovered three priorities we want to focus on for the next several years in addition to the things we are already doing.
Church Priority 1 - Church Life
Church Priority 2 - Family Ministries/Discipleship
Church Priority 3 - Communications for the 21st Century
Based on the analysis of the Action Learning Team and input from both staff and committees, Session has implemented these changes:
• Permanently change from a 3 Pastor Model to a 2 Pastor Model
• Change Cluster Structure from 4 to 3 Clusters (Church Life and Family Ministries Cluster, Evangelism and Outreach Cluster, Support Cluster)
• Change Pastor Mat’s title and job description to Associate Pastor of Church Life and Family Ministries
• Maintain Adult Discipleship Director
• Increase Care Ministries by adding an Assistant Director of Care
• Communication Coordinator (Digital Media, Web, Publications)
• Missions/Outreach – ensure and maintain strong missional focus
We believe these changes will help align us as a church to be who we are called to be in the 21st Century. But I want to be very clear here: if we are to be a healthy church in the 21st century it will take all of us!
Theme: It takes all of us!
If we want to be a healthy church, it takes all of us offering all of ourselves.
If we want to be a healthy church, it takes all of us being sent out.
To be a church that is intergenerational, missional, Biblical, cares for our city, cares for our world, and cares for our own church community, it will not always be smooth sailing. It will be more like Holy Chaos. We will need to be a church where everyone is being called to use their specific gifts!
Creed / Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Corinthians 15:42-44
“What Is Heaven Like?”
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Today we are going to look at the Resurrection and Life Everlasting. The whole idea of eternity/heaven is a difficult concept to wrap our mind around. None of us has a very good mental model of what eternity looks like. Even though the Bible does not give us any conclusive description of what Heaven will be like, there are glimpses in Scripture.
The historical theological view of Heaven is twofold.
Christ’s return will usher in a New Creation, a New Earth, and a New Heaven.
Christ’s return will usher in the moment that all who have died will rise again.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (NRSV)
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NRSV)
For the Lord Himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
All the sunrises and sunsets, symphonies and rock concerts, feasts and friendships are but whispers. They are a prologue to the grander story and an even better place. Only there, it will never end.
“Its not on sin, but Grace”
Creed / Rev. Mat Grover
Belief in the forgiveness of sins is only good news if we first understand that we need forgiveness, and to make sense of that understanding we must first understand sin.
The word for sin in the New Testament is ἁμαρτία (harmartia) meaning missing the mark. It is used in Greek Tragedy to refer to the fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero.
1. We all need forgiveness.
Romans 3:22-23 he says the righteousness of God through faith in in Jesus is for all who believe, for there is no distinction, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
2. God forgiveness is for us all.
Psalm 103:9-12 He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
3. Because we are forgiven, we must forgive.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Where do you need to ask for forgiveness? From God? From Yourself?
Where do you need to forgive others and work towards redemption?