The playlist for April 14th can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 57. This Psalm reflects on God as our refuge and rest. It assures us that God will “fulfill his purpose for us.” We need to be redirected toward that reality over and over again, don’t we? While we would certainly affirm it theologically, our lives often betray that we don’t truly believe the things we know to be true. When life is hard, we doubt that God is our refuge because we don’t feel very protected. When life is going well, we doubt that he is our refuge because it’s easy to find rest and joy in the good things we’re experiencing. But in the good, the bad, and anything in between, God alone is our rest, our joy, our refuge.
One of the primary things God uses to redirect our hope to God is gathered worship. When God’s people behold his glory in the Word as it’s read, prayed, sung, and preached, our faith and joy are built up. As we head towards Sunday, let’s pray that God helps our church family to believe the truth of Psalm 57.
Sunday School: John 21 - Through His breakfast encounter with His disciples, Jesus showed the reality of His restorative power. Because He fulfilled God’s plan to rescue people from sin, Jesus was able to forgive the disciples for their sins and failures and then recommission them in their task of following Him.
The playlist for April 7th can be found here.
In Isaiah 40, we find probably one of the most awe-inspiring descriptions of God in all of Scripture. The Lord, through his prophet, almost dares humanity to try to comprehend him, or to compare him to anything or anyone in all of creation. We do well to ponder God’s inestimable greatness and worth. We need to stand in awe of sovereign King of all things, worshiping him in the beauty of his holiness, and recognizing how small and sinful we are in comparison to our holy God.
But our worship does not stop there. The One who made us, the infinitely glorious, incomprehensible God of the universe is our God.That’s how Isaiah’s description begins, with a call to “behold your God.” As we consider his greatness, as we’re driven to humility and repentance because of our sin, we are reminded that the Lord does not regard us according to our sin. While we approach him in fear and trembling, we are reminded that we do not need to fear his wrath, because he will not turn away those who Christ has redeemed. Our finite, human minds can comprehend neither the greatness nor the grace of God, the depths of who he is or the riches of what he has done for us. But even the small fraction that we understand demands praise that is both humble and exultant, lifting up the matchless name of our glorious God.
To prepare for Sunday, read Isaiah 40:9-31.
Sunday School: The Struggle of Unbelief (John 20:24-31)
The playlist for March 31st can be found here.
We tend to define ourselves by how we look, things we’re good at, things we’ve accomplished, and often by the ways we’ve failed and things we are ashamed of. As we heard last Sunday, though, the Bible tells us something different. It says that we are not defined by anything in ourselves, good or bad; instead, our identity and value comes from our union with Christ. We are “in Christ,” no longer dead in our sins or defined by our weakness and failure. No, we are united to the Son of God, who, as we often sing, saves “the weakest, the vilest, the poor.” We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in him. Neither our best days nor our worst days change the reality of who we are in Christ. Our standing before God is secure, and our identity and value are forever fixed.
This new individual identity brings us into a new corporate identity. If being “in Christ” is a big enough reality to overthrow all of our false sources of identity, it’s also big enough to overcome the things that divide us from each other. We are brought together in Christ as his body, united to each other because we are united to him, raising one song, with one voice, of boasting in our Savior.
This week, we’re going to remind ourselves of these glorious gospel truths. To prepare for Sunday, read Ephesians 2.
Sunday School: Jesus spoke to His disciples on the evening of the day He was raised again to new life. The instructions Jesus gave His disciples reflect the mission of God that drives the storyline of the Bible. God the Father sends His Son, God the Son sends His people into the world, and the Father and the Son send the Spirit to empower us for mission. As followers of Jesus, we are a sent people who are being formed in the image of our sending God and our suffering Savior. We are not alone on our mission but are all the while empowered by the Spirit of God.
The playlist for March 24th can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 84.
Do our souls long for God? Do we regard him as our joy, our treasure, our prize? The redeemed heart can declare, “A day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Nothing – no gain, no experience, no pleasure – compares to knowing God. The gospel is not a door to earthly joy and success; no, it’s a door to something much better – God himself. He is all we need as we sojourn in a fallen world; he is true joy for the longing heart, he is comfort for the broken and hurting, a “sun and shield” who protects, upholds, and comforts us. He abounds in grace and mercy, forgiving our sin and loving us as he loves his Son.
No matter our circumstances, what we need is God. We need to know him better and trust him more. This is hope in our darkest, joy in our longing, and rest for our tired, weary souls.
Sunday School: The Road to Emmaus: On the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus explained how the Old Testament Scriptures pointed forward to His suffering and glory. Like the disciples, we read the whole Bible in light of Christ’s death and resurrection, focusing our attention on the gospel that lies at the heart of God’s written Word to us.
The playlist for March 17th can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Hebrews 2:1-10.
On Sunday, we’re going to study John 17:1-5, where Jesus prays to the Father about the hour of his glorification. This, as we mentioned last week, comes through the hour of his suffering. D.A. Carson said it like this: “So where is God's glory most manifested? In God's goodness - when Jesus is 'glorified,' lifted up and hung on a cross, displaying God's glory in the shame, degradation, brutality, and sacrifice of his crucifixion.”
Hebrews 2 reminds us of this truth, and it also reminds us that we are weak, rebellious, and undeserving of such gracious salvation. The reason the glorious God who holds the universe together had to suffer shame, degradation, and brutality was our sin – not in the abstract, but your sin, my sin. But Jesus’ work on the cross redeems us from our sin, and it moves us from rebellion and shame to share in the glory of the Son. He has brought “many sons to glory!” We are raised with him, new creations who formed and re-formed in the image of our glorious Savior. Christ suffered that we might not suffer, he was raised that we might live, and he was glorified that we might share in his glory. In preparation to worship the risen, glorified Son together, take a few minutes to reflect on your own sinfulness and on the extravagant grace of God that offers forgiveness of sin, new life in Christ, and glory for all eternity.
Sunday School: Consider the wondrous mystery of Jesus’ resurrection. Some women traveled to Jesus’ resting place on Easter Sunday, but an angel invited them to come and see His empty tomb. Then they saw Him and stopped to worship the risen Lord. Finally, they went to tell Jesus’ disciples what they had seen and experienced. We too are to see the empty tomb with the eyes of faith, we must worship our risen Savior, and we must go and tell the world about all He has done for us.
The playlist for March 10th can be found here.
This week we’re teaching a new song called “Resurrecting.” Because we always want to sing with understanding, I want to walk through some of this song’s rich gospel theology.
First, we sing about Christ’s glory coming about through his suffering, borrowing from a hymn called “The Head That Once Was Crowned”:
The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet, now at his feet we bow
The One who wore our sin and shame now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love now shines for all to see
Scripture tells us that it’s precisely because Jesus took on human flesh and became obedient to Father’s plan of redemption, leading to death on a cross, that he is now exalted and that his name is above every other name. His resurrection affirms that; it puts a divine stamp of approval on Christ’s work and vaults him into his exalted status. A simple chorus puts that truth on our lips:
Your name, your name, is victory
All praise will rise to Christ, our King
Then, in the bridge, we sing about the personal, redemptive results of Christ’s work:
By your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive to declare your victory
The resurrected King is resurrecting me
Because Jesus died and rose, not only is he exalted, but we have been made alive in him. We have been raised– we are no longer dead in sin; we are being raised– his resurrection life and power are at work in us to sanctify us and hold us fast; and we will be raised- when Christ returns in power and victory, our bodies will be resurrected and perfected to know and worship him forever.
As we sing Resurrecting the next couple of weeks, let’s pray that the Spirit would remind us of the glory of Christ and encourage us in his resurrection life. To prepare for Sunday, read Philippians 2:5-11.
The playlist for March 3rd can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 8:31-39. These verses tell us that, if we are in Christ, God is for us, and nothing can stand against us. The cross has secured his love for us, and nothing can separate us from that love! This is yet one more expression of the power of the cross.
In seasons of sorrow and doubt, we need to lift our eyes to the cross. We need to remember the God’s sovereign, steadfast love – love that is eternally and securely ours because of the gospel, love that powerfully works everything for our good and holds us fast when we are at our weakest.
Sunday School: The Savior Is Arrested: Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, chose to obey His Father and drink the full cup of suffering and wrath in order to purchase eternal life for believers. Even though He would be betrayed and endure false accusations, mockery, physical abuse, and death, Jesus accepted the foretold plan of His Father and fulfilled His identity as the promised Messiah sent as the Savior of the world.
The playlist for February 24th can be found here.
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” Most of us have heard that statement countless times, and it is a precious and powerful statement! But how often have we thought about why forgiveness is God’s faithful and just response to our confession? The apostle John goes on to explain that it’s because Jesus stands before the Father, advocating for us on the basis of his righteousness and his sacrifice. Though we sin often, though we wander and stray, the Father welcomes us to come running back to him in repentance and faith because of his Son. Praise God that Jesus stands in our place as our substitute and advocate.
To prepare for Sunday, read 1 John 1:5-2:6.
Sunday School: For more than a thousand years, the Passover meal celebrated God’s deliverance in the exodus of His people from Egypt and simultaneously pointed ahead to an even grander sacrifice and work of God. Jesus reinterpreted the Passover meal in light of Himself and His coming sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. With a demonstration of authority and humility, Jesus set forth the pattern of countless Communion celebrations that now point back to His new covenant sacrifice and point forward to His coming kingdom with holy anticipation.
The playlist for February 17th can be found here.
In Isaiah 54, God uses the very common biblical imagery of bride and groom to communicate something about his relationship to his people. He reminds us that his covenant promises will never fail. His steadfast love will never depart from those he has chosen and called by name for his own glory. This is true because of the cross. Because of the cross, the promises that God’s covenant of peace will never be removed from his people, and that no weapon fashioned against his people shall succeed, are true of us! We are held by God’s faithful covenant love, secure for all eternity because of Christ’s work. This is our heritage, our inheritance, our confidence.
Sunday School: Matthew 21 contains three scenes that occurred on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem during the week prior to His crucifixion. Jesus’ entry into the city was welcomed with great fanfare, even though He approached in humility while sitting on a donkey. He cleansed the temple of those there to take advantage of the worshipers. And as the true Son of David, He permitted and welcomed the praise of children. In these events, Jesus fulfilled Old Testament expectations and longings for the Messiah, who would redeem His people, restore true worship, and receive all praise.
The playlist for February 10th can be found here.
We’re going to sing a new hymn this Sunday called “Ancient of Days.” That particular name of God is only used in the book of Daniel, but it carries significant theological weight, communicating God’s eternality – his eternal existence, no beginning and no end. That’s an awe-inspiring trait, isn’t it? But there is also great comfort in this reality, because the One who was before time and who holds all time in his hands knows us. Psalm 103 says that he knows our frame, and he remembers that we are dust. Although our earthly days are fleeting, the everlasting God has promised steadfast love from everlasting to everlasting for his people. God’s existence outside of time gives us hope in our short, time-bound existence. His sovereign power makes time itself hold together, and he lovingly directs all things in our lives for his glory and our good. So, we trust our eternal, incomprehensible God, and we look forward to eternity , no longer bound by temporal limitations, struggles, pain, or temptations, in the presence of the Ancient of Days.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 103, and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with our new song.
Sunday School: The account of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany contrasts the generosity of a woman and the greed of Judas. In their respective responses to Jesus, we see the importance of giving Him priority and honor over everything in our lives. The distinction between these two people serves as an opportunity for us to consider our own hearts in light of the opportunity we have to express our devotion through visible acts of worship.
The playlist for February 3rd can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Colossians 2:6-15.
One of my favorite phrases in Scripture appears in these verses: Christ nailed our record of debt to the cross. He canceled it, set it aside; the record of our sins, our dark past, no longer exists! Instead, we receive new life in Christ, because of his righteous life and sacrifice. I cannot imagine a greater grace than that!
The baptisms we observe on Sunday declare this reality. We have died with Christ, as has the record of our debt; now we are alive in him, called to worship, called to righteousness, and empowered to these callings by the same grace that saved us.
Sunday School: Jesus demonstrated His power over death by raising his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. This miracle story reveals the goodness and sovereignty of God, the curse of death and the power of resurrection, as well as Christ’s compassion toward those in pain. As we trust in Jesus—our powerful Friend who conquers death—we bring glory to Him in the midst of terrible circumstances.
The playlist for January 27th can be found here.
In John 17, we read that Jesus has been glorified with the Father because he completed his work on earth, bringing eternal life to all who the Father gave him – all who would repent of their sin and trust Christ for salvation. The passage then explains that this eternal life is to know God, primarily through knowing his Son, the One who reveals the glory of God in his person.
When we look across Scripture at this idea of “knowing God,” we find that to know him is to experience true, eternal, soul-satisfying joy. This mean that God’s plan for his people, one of his purposes in the plan of redemption, was our joy. When Jesus says that he has come to give abundant life, he doesn’t mean fame and fortune; he gives us himself! As we grow in our theology and our love for and worship of Christ, we taste what King David called “fullness of joy.” May God give us grace to stop chasing joy in created things and pursue him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 16 and John 17:1-5.
Sunday School: In Jesus’ healing of a sick woman and His raising of Jairus’ daughter, we see the power of God on display—a power that overcomes sickness, shame, and even death. As Christians, we minister to those who suffer from sickness and shame with faith that God is mighty to save and to heal.
The playlist for January 20th can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 54.
Last Sunday, Pastor Matt explained that one of the reasons it’s so important to gather for worship is to remind each other about the grace and faithfulness of God. Every week, there are people in our worship service struggling with sickness, fear, sin, anxiety, doubt, and discouragement. Part of what happens on Sunday is that, as we praise God for who he is and what he’s done, we encourage those among us who are struggling. We remind them of the character and promises of God revealed in Scripture and testify to his faithfulness in our own lives.
This week, pray for people in our church who need to be reminded that God is their helper and the One who upholds their life, and pray that God would use you and the rest of our church family to lift up their eyes to see the Lord and to encourage and build their faith and hope in him.
Sunday School: Summary and Goal Jesus Christ has power and authority over evil spirits. Jesus showed His care and concern for a man who was isolated from society and controlled by evil spirits. After delivering the man from his bondage, Jesus called him to testify to the goodness of God. As those who trust in the authority and power of Jesus and who have been delivered from our bondage to sin, we too are called to testify to the goodness of God.
The playlist for January 13th can be found here.
How often do you think about the privilege of worshiping God? By worship, I don’t just mean singing songs on Sunday (although that certainly is worship!); I mean the kind of worship Romans 12 talks about: a life lived for the glory of God, that Scripture can call “sacrifice pleasing to God.” That’s the ultimate purpose for which we are created, but our sin destroys that. Those separated from God can’t worship God. The Old Testament temple system physically demonstrated that sinful people cannot approach a holy God without sacrifice. Even then, the worshiper only had access to God through the priests, and only the high priest himself had access to God’s earthly dwelling place within the temple – appropriately called the Most Holy Place.
This entire system of intercession and sacrifice foreshadowed, of course, the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. It’s through his sacrifice and his ministry as our great High Priest that we enjoy the privilege of living our lives in worship to God. The gospel calls us and frees us to do the very thing we were made to do! When we gather for worship to read, hear, sing, and pray the Word of God, we reach the pinnacle of what we’re supposed to be doing all week. We join our worship with that of our brothers and sisters, recounting together the glory and grace of our God, exalting his great name, and encouraging one another to go out again as worshipers living for his glory.
To prepare for Sunday, read Hebrews 10:1-18.
Sunday School: The Greater Miracle of Forgiveness // True faith seeks Jesus not only for physical healing but also spiritual healing. Jesus is not only able to heal the sick physically but, being fully God, He is also able to forgive us for our sins and heal us spiritually. The gospel of Jesus Christ is able to heal sinners completely and make them whole.
The playlist for January 6th can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 145.
Theologians sometimes talk about God in terms of his greatness and his goodness. God is holy, he is eternal, he is infinite; these are attributes of his greatness, and this greatness leaves us in awe. We can’t comprehend what it means for God to have no beginning or no end, or for him to be completely self-sufficient. It leads us to a healthy fear of a holy God who’s perfect justice and righteousness demand separation from and wrath towards our sin. We cannot help but realize, as we’ll sing on Sunday, that a great chasm lies between us and God, which we cannot cross.
But God is also perfectly and completely good. He is gracious and merciful; he’s slow to anger and abounding in love. He is not distant from his creation; quite the opposite – he is “near to all who call on him.” And he himself crossed the chasm for us in Christ; the Son of God bore the wrath of God and made a way to God for us. He leads us and comforts us. The goodness of God leads us to thanksgiving, to affection, to hope. We worship God with awe and reverence and trembling, because we recognize how great, how transcendent, how holy he is, and, at the same time, we worship him with warmth and affection, appreciation, and celebration, because he is our God, our Father, our joy, and the One who welcomes our praise as a fragrant offering.
Sunday School: In the Christian life we face various struggles and circumstances that test us. However, because we are Christians, we know we don’t face them alone. Jesus—the Son of God—is sovereign over all things, and He calls us to a place of deep comfort and courage as we face struggles in this life. He is sovereign even over the wind and the waves, so we can worship Him no matter what and call others to do the same.
December 30th's playlist can be found here.
At the end of any given year, we seem to sort of default into remembering. We look back at the past year and think of the good and bad, we think about how children have grown, how we’ve changed, etc. But for Christians, this should be more than an end-of-year activity. We are a remembering people, not constantly looking back at the past with either longing or contempt, but constantly looking back at what God has done in us, around us, and for us.
The Bible consistently points out this need to remember, and it calls us to remind ourselves and each other of God’s work, starting with the gospel itself. And as we remember God’s grace and faithfulness in the past, it strengthens our faith as we look forward, confident that the One who has been faithful will be faithful, confident that he who began a good work in us will see it through to its completion. What we do every Sunday is hold up the gospel, remind ourselves and each other of the goodness of our God, and call each other to boast and hope in our Savior.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 66 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
Sunday School: Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus provides not only for physical needs but also for spiritual ones. He showed compassion for the crowd following after Him, He took what was available and worked an amazing miracle to feed a multitude, and He chose to communicate that blessing to the crowd through His disciples. Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 demonstrated His deity in providing bread for the crowd, even as He Himself is “the bread of life” (John 6:35).
December 23rd's playlist can be found here.
I think one of the biggest risks for Christians this time of year is boredom. Not boredom in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, but boredom with the familiarity of the theology of Christmas. Paul Tripp says, “Things you once celebrated you don’t even notice. You walk by the garden of the incarnation, and you don’t see the roses of grace anymore.” How easy it is for us to miss the significance of Christ’s birth because we’re so familiar with the Scriptures, stories, and songs! We forget the massive, eternity-altering reality that is the incarnation: infinite, eternal God enters time and space, living as a man, experiencing joy and sorrow and friendship and pain and everything else that we, as humans experience. But he does this without sin, fulfilling God’s law. And then the sinless God-Man willingly takes the wrath of God for our sins, the punishment that should be ours, so that we can be reconciled to God. As we prepare for our worship gathering, let’s pray that God would give us a fresh glimpse at familiar truth, and greater awe and joy because of the great things he has done for us.
To prepare for Sunday, read Luke 1:46-55.
Sunday School: John 2:1-12 "John did not recount the story of Jesus turning water into wine for our entertainment; by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he intentionally presented the truth that Jesus’ miracles reveal God the Father. Through the details of this miracle, we see Jesus’ compassion for our needs, a glimpse of His identity, and His ability to reveal God in all He does."
December 16th's playlist can be found here.
The end of “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” says “By thine all-sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.” This is one of my favorite lines in any Christmas hymn. It is because of Christ’s merit, Christ’s righteousness, that you and I are raised to his glorious throne. That wording echoes Romans 8, where we are told that the gospel makes us co-heirs with Jesus, sons and daughters of God who will be “glorified with him”. Absolutely nothing in us deserves that kind of status, that kind of acceptance, that kind of blessing. But God does not look at us or measure us by anything in us. Christ’s merit – his perfect, righteous obedience to God’s law – is counted as our merit. We are raised to the status of God’s children because we are in his Son!
To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 8:1-17.
Sunday School: One of Jesus’ most famous parables about judgment was the parable of the wicked tenants. In this story we see the privilege and responsibility that comes with God’s calling on our lives. We also see the grace of God in His warnings to sinners and the judgment of God in His retribution toward those who reject His Son. This parable’s stark imagery reminds us that we are called to bear the fruit of repentance and mission and thus fulfill our purpose as God’s people.
Community Kids: Seeking God // Seeking God involves experiencing a desperate need for God. Now that the students “know their ABCs,” what should they do? It is not enough to simply know about God. Many people who know about God, even the truth about God, are on their way to hell. The Pharisees would have made perfect church people, but they did not love and treasure God. Why? Because they considered themselves righteous by their own merit. The Holy Spirit alone can cause a person to comprehend the significance of their own sinfulness, but this lesson hopes to make students eager for what the Holy Spirit may reveal to them.
Catechism Question: What else does Christ’s death redeem?
Answer: Every part of fallen creation.
December 9th's playlist can be found here.
We’re going to sing a new song on Sunday that we wrote for Advent this year called “The Promised One.” As you might expect from the title, its focus is Jesus as the fulfillment of OT prophecy and promises of a coming Messiah, and the chorus is a response to the fact that the Light of the world has come, and the promise of salvation, believed and hoped for by God’s people for centuries, has been realized in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Lyrics are posted below, and a demo recording is attached, so you can listen and start learning the song before Sunday, if you’d like. To prepare for our service, read Luke 1:68-75.
Through many years, by words of God
The prophets did foretell
A suffering Servant, yet a King
Would come to earth to dwell
They longed to know this mystery
Of deity in flesh
Such promises could only be
Fulfilled by God himself
For long ago, in Eden’s sin
A prophecy was made
The Son of God, yet Son of Man
Would crush the serpent’s head
So one dark night in Bethlehem
Jesus, the Light, was born
The incarnation of the Word
In helpless infant form
Gloria! Gloria! The Light of the world has come
Gloria! Gloria! Behold the promised One
Another garden he would see
And know through willing tears
His violent death upon a cross
Confirmed the words of years
Emmanuel, he walked this earth
From cradle to empty grave
The Conqueror of sin and death
Was humbled that he might save
Sunday School: In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, we see the danger of self-righteousness, our human need for mercy, and what it means to be justified by faith. God calls us to recognize our sinfulness and our need for His mercy and in humility to proclaim the gospel of grace to those who trust in themselves.
Community Kids: Bountiful // God is more than enough to satisfy all our desires. Bountiful describes the infinite God who is able to meet all of our deepest desires. He is an overflowing spring of life that never runs dry. He will always be more than enough to meet all the desires of His people. There is never any reason to turn to anything less satisfying. God is more than enough!
Catechism Question: Does Christ’s death mean that all our sins can be forgiven?
Answer: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God will remember our sins no more.
December 2nd's playlist can be found here.
This Sunday is the beginning of our Advent celebration, where we remember the incarnation of Christ and consider its significance in God’s plan of redemption. Advent is a season of hope, expectance, and preparation. We’ll sing songs over the next few weeks that talk about the longing of God’s people for Messiah the answer to that longing – the birth Jesus.
At first blush, it might seem a little bit odd to sing things like, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” After all, we live on the other side of Christ’s incarnation! But there is a purpose to singing songs like this, a purpose to a season of hope and preparation. The reality of Christ’s first advent aims our hearts at his second advent, when he will return in glory. So we, too, hope and long for the coming of our King. We long for sin to be done away with forever, and for the righteous rule of our God to be firmly and eternally established in a new creation where there be no sin and no suffering. When we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, it fixes our eyes and our hope on his glorious return, and it reminds us of gospel grace that grants us the promise of eternal hope and rest in Christ.
Sunday School: The Father of two lost sons // Jesus told a famous parable of a loving father with two lost sons. In the characters’ attitudes and actions, we see a picture of human sinfulness, the grace-filled posture of God, and the deadliness of self-righteousness. Like the original listeners of this parable, we are called not to resent God’s grace but to celebrate God’s goodness in embracing any sinner who repents.
Community Kids: Never-tiring // God never gets tired or weary. People simply run out of stamina: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Even children, who seem to have boundless energy, eventually become tired and weary. What keeps us going? What gives rest to a weary soul? Lesson 22 explores that our source of rest is the One who never grows tired or weary—the great God who sustains the universe. Children will also see that God never gets bored with being God.
Catechism Question: Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?
Answer: Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God.
November 25th's playlist can be found here.
To prepare for our service on Sunday, read Psalm 100. We say often that we worship God in response to who he is and what he’s done, and Psalm 100 sums this idea up perfectly and succinctly. It calls us to enter God’s courts with praise and give thanks to him because 1) he is God. He created everything, including us, and he rules in sovereign power; and 2) we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. God does not stay far away from us, though he is transcendent and holy. Through the gospel, he has made us his own people – his sheep. He lovingly, gently holds us, leading us back to the fountain of grace, joy, and life that is Christ himself. Because of these things, we worship.
Community Kids: Happy--God delights in being God. It makes perfect sense that an all-powerful, all-sufficient, perfect God should be happy and delight in all that He is and does. In His overflowing happiness He delights in making for Himself a people to be satisfied in that happiness. He doesn’t love or do good out of begrudging duty, but out of the joyful freedom He has in being the King of kings and the Lord of lords. God’s happiness becomes the foundation for our own happiness.
Catechism Question: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?
Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective.
November 18th's playlist can be found here.
To prepare for our worship service this week, read 1 Samuel 7:3-14
In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel leads the people of Israel in repentance from their idolatry and worship of the true God. Immediately (literally, while they’re making sacrifices), the Philistines attack, but God supernaturally intervenes, sending the Philistines into a panicked retreat and clearing the way to an easy victory for Israel’s army. Samuel then set up a monument (“ebenezer” – a “stone of remembrance”), something that would continually remind the people of Israel of what God had done for them.
We’ve heard over the last two weeks that our battle with sin has already been won. Christ has defeated sin at a cosmic level, and, in Christ, we participate in this victory at a personal level. In light of the victory of the cross, we, likewise, raise up an Ebenezer, a marker of sorts to remind ourselves of the gospel. In fact, this is the core of our ongoing fight against sin! We look at Jesus again and again to see his glory and to remember his work of redemption. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that in doing this we are “transformed from one degree of glory to another.” To win the ongoing battle with sin, to live in the victory that Christ has won, we gaze at Christ himself. We abide in him more deeply. Let’s pray that God would give us a glimpse of the glory of Christ in the Word through song, prayer, and preaching this Sunday, and that we would be forever changed to be more like Jesus by that sight.
Sunday School: Jesus taught on forgiveness through the parable of the unmerciful servant. Jesus’ followers are invited to forgive others because they have been forgiven a much greater debt. Forgiveness of others is an overflow of God’s good news, not simply an occasional act when it feels appropriate. To follow Jesus means to remember we are forgiven and to extend that forgiveness to others.
Community Kids: Exalted // God ranks high above everything else; he is the Most High. When referring to God, the word “exalted” means “to be high” or “to raise up,” to be seen and honored as “above all.” God lifts up His name and fame in order to be seen by all the peoples of the earth. There is no one “higher up” than the one true God. In contrast is the human quest for self-exaltation. People have a great hunger to be famous and well-known. Thousands of years ago the people of Shinar attempted to make a name for themselves, but the Most High God will alone be exalted over all the earth.
Catechism Question: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?
Answer: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin.
November 11th's playlist can be found here.
We’re going to read an imprecatory psalm this week – a prayer for victory over the psalmist’s enemies and for God’s judgment on those enemies. These passages often feel a little odd to us, but we know that all Scripture connects to Jesus in some way, and imprecatory psalms are no exception. They point us forward to Christ’s decisive victory over the ultimate enemies of sin, death, and hell at the cross. This is the victory we heard about last Sunday – the victory that’s already been won over sin. We are united to Christ in this victory, joined to him in new life that frees us from the power of sin.
The psalm ends by calling God’s people to worship in light of his coming victory over his enemies, and we likewise worship our conquering Savior, singing in the victory of the cross, confident in the promise of new life and the hope of the gospel.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 59.
November 4th's playlist can be found here.
To prepare for our worship service, read John 15:1-11. In these verses, Jesus describes himself as the true Vine, and his followers as branches, who get their life from the vine. He says that, just as a branch can’t bear fruit unless it’s connected to a living plant, neither can we bear fruit unless we are connected to Jesus.
I’ve got an orange tree in my backyard. Do the branches on that orange tree grow oranges because they try really hard? No, they grow oranges because they’re connected to a living orange tree. Likewise, in our sanctification, we do not become more like Christ by our own will or effort; we become more like Christ by being connected to Christ himself. The command of John 15 is to abide in Jesus; the Greek literally means to “make our home” in him. This doesn’t preclude effort on our part; to the contrary, the New Testament uses words like strive and toil to describe our sanctification. But it does tell us that we are not fundamentally responsible for Christian growth; our responsibility is to make our home in Jesus – to know, love, enjoy, and worship him. That, in turn, creates and motivates our effort and our growth (Phil. 2:13-14). Jesus has “become to us righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Praise God for this good news!
Community Kids: Holy // God is like no one else – He is completely perfect and separate from sin. Until now, the curriculum has studied attributes of God, or words that describe who God is and what He is like. When these attributes are put together they create a picture that displays His glory. God’s holiness is the essence of His divine nature. No analogy or illustration can ever come close to describing the holiness of God—it is beyond comprehension. This lessons offers just a peek at the incomprehensible holiness of God.
Catechism Question: Who is the Redeemer?
Answer: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ.
October 28th's playlist can be found here.
We’re starting a new sermon series this week called This Means War, exploring what the Bible says about our battle with sin. One of the most important things we can do in the fight against sin is remind ourselves of our identity – who we are in Christ. Scripture tells us we are adopted, loved, forgiven, redeemed, chosen, and blessed, not because of anything we have done, but because of Jesus. Do we still sin? Yes, absolutely. But our sin does not define us; our standing in Christ defines us
On Sunday, we’ll read from Ephesians to about the new life Christ has given to dead sinners. To prepare for Sunday, read Ephesians 1:3-14, reminding yourself of the grace of God in calling us to himself and our status as his beloved children.
Sunday School: Luke 4 // Jesus spoke in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. After He read the words of Scripture, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and that His mission was to free people held by various types of bondage and sin. The people in Jesus’ town rejected Him as a prophet and rejected His message of liberation. As followers of Jesus, we should expect to face opposition and experience hostility because of the gospel, but we can also depend on the Spirit’s power to endure.
Community Kids: King // God rules over everyone. Israel wanted a king to visibly represent them to other nations. Like Israel, we often turn to human solutions, and they disappoint us. This lesson shows that when we set our hearts on lesser things we fail to grasp the following: 1) God was, is, and will always be the great King above all earthly kings; 2) He has a kingdom not (yet) seen with fleshly eyes; and 3) He alone is a King who is righteous, just, and works for the good of His people. Believers eagerly anticipate the day when the whole earth will see Jesus return to earth as the majestic King of Kings!
Catechism Question: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
Answer: Yes, God reconciles us to himself by a Redeemer.
October 21st's playlist can be found here.
Our worship services (and most worship services throughout Christian history) regularly include space for confession. We read passages of Scripture, sing songs, and sometime (as we will this week) read prayers of confession together. This is an important part of our worship, because, as we rehearse the gospel together, we are reminded of our consistent and continual struggle with sin, as well as the fact that God offers abundant grace and forgiveness because of Christ’s work for us. As we confess and rest in the promise of grace and pardon, we are called to greater, grace-dependent obedience; while God invites us to come to him as we are, he does not leave us where we are. The same gospel that promises grace to the repentant and humble empowers us to live in freedom from sin, for the glory of our Savior.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 51, and ask God to both convict you of sin and to use our worship gathering to form us into the image of his Son as we remember his grace to us in the gospel.
Sunday School: Sunday School: “Jesus had a conversation with a Samaritan woman He met at the well of Jacob. In their discussion, Jesus claimed to have the living water that will satisfy the soul, and He revealed the truth that God seeks people to worship Him in spirit and truth. As Jesus’ followers, we resemble the Samaritan woman as we exalt Jesus for who He is and then tell others about the living water He offers.”
Community Kids: Victorious // God always wins – even over Satan, sin, and death. God is almighty and sovereign. He will always accomplish all that He sets out to do. No one can defeat His plans. God is a victorious warrior who defeats all His enemies. We don’t always see an image of Jesus as that great warrior, but Jesus won the battle that all others had failed to win. He was victorious over the power of Satan, sin, and death. Although at first it didn’t appear that He had won, His resurrection was proof that the penalty for sin had been satisfied. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s people are made right with God.
Catechism Question: Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?
Answer: No, God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them both in this life, and in the life to come.
October 14th's playlist can be found here.
John 17 contains Jesus’ final words before his arrest and crucifixion, known as his high priestly prayer. He opens by asking the Father to glorify him, because what is about to happen (his death and resurrection) accomplish what he came to earth to do: give eternal life to all who would believe in him. Christ is exalted and worthy of all honor and glory because he has redeemed us from our sin and made us alive in him. This is the theme with which we ended last Sunday – the glorious promise of new life in Christ – and it’s where we’re beginning this week. We worship and serve a living Savior and King, and we do so as those who share in his eternal resurrection life. Only Jesus could provide that life for us, and only Jesus is worthy of our worship in response.
To prepare for Sunday, read John 17:1-5.
Sunday School: Jesus & John the Baptist: John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by pointing to Him and His kingdom, by finding his greatest joy in Jesus’ exaltation, and by warning others and witnessing to the love and power of God. Because John recognized his purpose and his identity, he offered his heart with joyful gladness to the Messiah who was coming. From John we learn how to find our identity in Christ and how our mission goes forward as people who “decrease” in order that Christ may receive all the glory.
Community Kids: Deliverer--God saves his people from his wrath. Jesus delivers us from the curse of sin and from the wrath of God. This lesson is designed to explain redemption. Rather than focus directly on the story of Good Friday, this lesson focuses on the theology of Good Friday—the resolution of God’s ultimate love for His glory, and His love for His unrighteous people.
Catechism Question: What is idolatry?
Answer: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator.
October 7th's playlist can be found here.
The gospel offers incomparable hope in trials. It says that trials are one of things God uses to sanctify us. This is why James can call us to “count it all joy” when we experience trials. It promises that Christ will keep us even in our weakest moments, even when our faith fails us and we struggle to believe the promises of God, and that he keeps on keeping us until we are with him in eternity, where sin and suffering will be no more.
There are many people in our church in seasons of trial and difficulty right now, some we know about, and some that we don’t. This Sunday, as we read from James 1 and then sing about the promise and hope of the gospel, let’s intentionally sing “to one another,” as Colossians 3 commands. Let’s sing so that those who are struggling and hurting are reminded that Jesus is their Good Shepherd, holding and keeping them through the darkest of valleys, and that he promises to gently and securely hold them in his hand until they are safely home with him.
To prepare for Sunday, read James 1:2-12.
Sunday School: In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus taught the religious leader about the mystery of regeneration, what he described as being “born again.” As Christians, we have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in God’s Son. The new birth is the basis of our confidence that God is at work transforming us and all who believe in the gospel.
Community Kids: Zealous // God does everything with zeal and determination and strength for his name’s sake. Webster’s Dictionary defines “zeal” as “eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something.” This definition, together with the understanding of jealousy seen in Lesson 23, provides a picture of God in ardent pursuit of the glory of His name. Amazingly, in that pursuit, we see God eagerly pursuing to save an unrighteous people. In this lesson and the next, students will explore how God accomplished His ultimate goal—upholding and loving His glory, in the act of loving and saving an unrighteous people.
Catechism Question: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.
September 30th's playlist can be found here.
To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 148.
This psalm commands a response from all of creation, and especially from God’s people, to all that God has done. If even the sun and moon and mountains and animals have a part in declaring the greatness of the Lord, how much greater is our calling, as people made in his image and redeemed because of his grace and mercy, who now know personally the God who made all things! On Sunday, we’re going to recount the character and work of our God by singing several psalms – songs taken straight from the Scripture. As we prepare to worship together, spend a few minutes this weekend considering all that God has done for us, as well as our privilege and responsibility to declare his glory in response.
Sunday School: Jesus extended a call to repentance to unlikely and unexpected people. Instead of ignoring the call, the first disciples abandoned their old way of life and received Christ’s invitation to follow Him. Now, as believers in Christ, we have the privilege of answering God’s call to discipleship and then extending the same call to those who need to repent and believe.
Community Kids: Merciful // God is kind to undeserving sinners. Although grace and mercy are usually assigned two distinct meanings, for this lesson they are combined in one single attribute of God. This lesson focuses on the truth that God is kind and forgiving to people who deserve His wrath. Since we are all unrighteous, God is not under any obligation to award His favor to us. Using the parable of The Prodigal Son, this lesson aims to show children the amazing kindness tha