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?