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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.
 
  
Grace,
Pastor Joseph 

*****

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.
 
 
Grace,
Pastor Joseph 

*****

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.
 
  
Grace,
Pastor Joseph 

*****

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.
 
 
Grace,
Pastor Joseph 

******

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.

 
Grace,
Pastor Joseph 

******

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

******

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).

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

******

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."

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

***** 

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 *****

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. 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 *****

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 ******

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 *********

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 *********

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

************* 

CBC Family,

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. 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 *********

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

****************

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

 

******** 

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.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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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 that God pours out on His children who have sinned by valuing other things more than His glory.

Catechism Question: Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?

Answer: That we may know the holy nature of God, and the sinful nature of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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September 23rd's playlist can be found here.

We’re learning a new hymn this Sunday taken from Psalm 130 called “I Will Wait for You."

We are forgiven; our sin is covered by the blood of Christ, and we are no longer slaves to it. But we are not yet glorified; that is, sin has not been completely eradicated from our hearts and lives. In our ongoing battle with sin, we are invited to continually come back to God in repentance, and he forgives and cleanses us on the basis of Jesus work for us. 1 John speaks to this when it says that when we do sin, we have “an advocate before God the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Psalm 130 gives us words to express our ongoing struggle with sin, our turning towards God in repentance, and our hope in the gospel’s promise that God will forgive our sin because we are in Christ.

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 130. Ask God for grace in your ongoing struggle against sin, and praise him that, even when you do sin, he forgives us and welcomes us because of the gracious work of his Son.


Sunday School: Jesus demonstrated faithfulness in the wilderness of temptation. Unlike Adam and Eve in the garden and unlike the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus refused to gratify his desires apart from God’s will or to test God and his promises. Instead of taking the path of earthly exaltation, Jesus fixed his eyes on the cross and triumphed over the temptations of the Evil One. As Christians, we can resist temptation by trusting in the Savior who overcame temptation in our place.


Community Kids: Patient // God is slow to anger and slow to punish. The previous lesson emphasized God’s fierce anger and hatred of sin—His wrath. We all deserve God’s wrath. So why doesn’t God destroy all of us? It is God’s good pleasure to be slow to anger and slow to punish sin so that His sovereign grace may be displayed. How good for us that God is a patient God!

Catechism Question: Did God create us unable to keep his law?

Answer: No, but because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve we are all born in sin and guilt, unable to keep God’s law.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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September 16th's playlist can be found here.

I recently heard John MacArthur say, “The heart can only go as high in worship as it goes deep in theology.” That is to say, if we don’t know God, we can’t truly respond to him with our hearts, mouths, and lives. Our opening hymn this Sunday illustrates that truth perfectly, proclaiming things like, “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made,” and “When I think that God his Son not sparing sent him to die,” THEN sings my soul, how great Thou art. Our affection for and adoration of God are rooted in an ever-growing understanding of his majestic character and gracious works. Our worship services – and, in fact, our entire lives – are constant rhythms of revelation (understanding more about God through his Word) and response (worship and obedience). Our doxology flows from our theology!

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 145.


Sunday School: John the Baptist was the prophet who prepared the way for Jesus’ public ministry. John prepared the way by preaching a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and by baptizing people as a sign of their allegiance to God. Jesus chose to be baptized, even though he was sinless, in order to identify with his sinful people and provide an example of righteousness. Similarly, Christian baptism symbolizes our union with Christ in his death and resurrection and marks us out as God’s people.


Community Kids: Wrath // God is very angry at sin. If we are going to teach children the whole counsel of God, we must teach them about His wrath. Any vision of God presented without this attribute would be incomplete. People don’t like to think that God could ever be angry at their sin and so angry, in fact, that He would pour out His judgment on those who would scorn His glory. But it is in the truth of God’s wrath (which we all deserve) that the wonder of the Gospel exists. It is only when we see God’s anger toward sin that we can understand and love the news of God’s saving grace. This lesson is designed to help students see that God’s wrath is a display of His glory.

Catechism Question: Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?

Answer: Since the fall, no human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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September 9th's playlist can be found here.

This Sunday, we get to celebrate three baptisms! Baptism is a visible expression of the glorious gospel truth that we have been united to Christ in his death and resurrection – that we share in his resurrection life. This union with Christ means that we are free from sin’s bondage. We are free to live as we were created to live – enjoying and glorifying God! Jesus describes this as “abundant life.” And this life is not experienced on our own; baptism also signifies our being spiritually “baptized” into the body of Christ – his church. So, as we gather to worship together this week, we celebrate and proclaim that we are alive and bound together in Christ, one body with one voice declaring the glory of our Savior!

To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 6:1-11.


Sunday School: Jesus has a zealous love for God’s Word. As a young boy visiting the temple, Jesus asked questions and gave answers to the religious leaders. In response to his parents, who misunderstood him, Jesus declared that he was involved in his Father’s work. Here we see Jesus as a fully human boy, yet totally devoted to his Father and submissive to his earthly parents. As we join Jesus in being about his Father’s work, we too are called to grow in wisdom and obedience as we showcase his glory.


Community Kids: Righteous // Everything God thinks, says, and does is right. God is right in everything He thinks, says, and does. How can this righteous God, who values what is most valuable (Himself) love an unrighteous people? Lesson 24 begins a seven- lesson series that answers this question. God is committed to His glory and His love for His sinful people. This lesson lays the foundation for future lessons in which children will study redemption and the work of Christ on the cross.

Catechism Question: What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?

Answer: Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in worship of God. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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August 26th's playlist can be found here.

To prepare for our worship gathering this Sunday, read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.

Paul talks about the gospel in kind of a unique way in these verses; he talks about it in terms of comfort in suffering. Christians will suffer. And this in itself can be difficult to understand; why do unbelievers so often seem to have it better than God’s people? While it doesn’t answer every question about suffering, the gospel does offer hope and comfort in suffering.

How? First and foremost, it roots our joy in something greater than our circumstances or desires – God himself. It also promises that our suffering has purpose and meaning in God’s plan for his glory – it helps us to know Jesus and conforms us to his image, and it lets us comfort others in their suffering. And the gospel also guarantees an eternal future without suffering, a new creation free from sin and all its effects.

There is suffering and injustice all around us. Some of us are in the throes of suffering right now or remember the sting of past suffering. Some of us may not be in the fire of suffering right now, but we all certainly see suffering around us. Christ himself is our only hope and comfort in suffering. The gospel offers joy in all circumstances, purpose and meaning to trials, and a future without sin or suffering.


Sunday School: The birth of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew. Here we see the beautiful event in which God takes on human flesh and enters our world as a baby. In Luke’s telling of the story, we see that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, where the news of his birth was then announced to the marginalized of society. In Matthew’s account, we see how the arrival of the wise men demonstrates the plan of God for the gospel to go out to all the nations. As followers of Christ, we are to resemble the shepherds and the wise men – responding to Christ’s broth with extravagant praise and public testimony.


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: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Answer: First, that we know God as the only true God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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August 19th's playlist can be found here.

Early on, the Christian church was faced with false teaching that claimed Jesus was not God, or that he gave up his deity when he became a man. The Nicene Creed was written in 325 A.D. to combat this teaching, and it has been used for almost 2000 years since by Christians around the world to affirm foundational truths about Christ, the Trinity, and the gospel. Without turning our worship preparation guide into a church history lesson, I want to explain a little bit about why this controversy, and this creed, were and are so important. When Jesus came to earth in human flesh and bones, he did what only God himself could do: He bore the weight and punishment of all our sin and shame. No mere human could do that! No “half-god” or “half-man” could do that. Jesus, fully God and fully human, secured our salvation, as only someone who was fully God and fully human could!

This Sunday, we’re going to read the Nicene Creed together, affirming, along with myriad other believers around the world over the centuries, that we believe these core gospel truths. And we’re going to respond by singing a song we wrote for Christmas last year called “God With Us,” because we want to celebrate and worship our Savior, very God, who bore both our human frame and our sin, so that we could be saved. He is infinitely worthy!

To prepare for Sunday, read John 1:1-18.


Sunday School: Mary’s first experience of God’s remarkable call on her life was to be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. A young woman, probably still in her teens, Mary was confronted by the angel Gabriel with the news that God intended to use her to fulfill the greatest promise of his covenant. Mary’s response as the “servant of the Lord” becomes an example for all Christian obedience. In our own lives, we must recognize that God calls us to obedience, even when it is costly. Like Mary, we magnify the Lord through our obedience as servants of God and followers of Christ.


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: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

Answer: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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August 12th's playlist can be found here.

Even though it was written centuries before Christ’s incarnation, Isaiah 53 gives us one of the most robust descriptions in all of Scripture of his suffering on our behalf. The chapter ends like this: “[H]e poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Jesus stood in our place, human institutions counting him as the lowliest of criminals, and heaven pouring out on him the wrath for our sins. Amidst the greatest physical and spiritual suffering imaginable, we read that “he opened not his mouth.” Instead, he humbly bowed to the Father’s will, which was to “crush him” and “put him to grief” so that, by his perfect, atoning sacrifice, “many could be accounted righteous.” But here’s the paradox: in his suffering, Jesus is glorified. The New Testament reminds us over and over again that Christ being “lifted up” on a cross means something more than just a literal, physical lifting up. It signifies that his exaltation through his suffering! When we remember the cross, we do not merely remember Jesus beaten and bloodied, suffering for our sin; we remember Jesus in all his glory, as he completes the work the Father sent him to do – accomplish salvation for his people. The remembering calls for both sober reflection and triumphant celebration, as we recognize our sin that hung Christ on the cross, and we worship the glorified Savior and King who ransomed our souls.

To prepare for Sunday, read Isaiah 53.


Sunday School: Malachi // God’s people are to be shaped by God’s Word. As Ezra proclaimed God’s word, the people honored the voice of God and responded with repentance and were renewed. Likewise, biblical fellowship must be centered on God’s Word. As we gather together to listen to God speak to us through the Scriptures, we are challenged to repent, strengthened in our fellowship, and empowered for our mission. 


Community Kids: Omniscient // God knows everything. Not only does God know everything, but He has always known everything, including everything that was, is, and will be. Most children are familiar with the idea that God knows everything. This lesson develops this concept further by giving concrete examples of how much God really knows, including the fact that God fully knows what is for us the most incomprehensible thing of all—Himself.

Catechism Question: How can we glorify God?

Answer: By loving him and obeying his commands and law.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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August 5th's playlist can be found here.

Matthew 6 records Jesus’ teaching about the value of his kingdom. We find two main (and connected) truths: first, God is supremely valuable. He is our true good and the only source of ultimate joy. Second, God cares deeply about his creation and provides for it, so we can trust him instead of worrying about what we have or what we lack. If God cares for flowers and knows when a bird dies, how can we doubt that he see, knows, and cares for us? On Sunday, we’re going to sing our way through these truths, remembering God as the source of all good and all blessings; testifying that we do not need to be anxious, because he is faithful to his promise to care for his children; and recognizing that God is supremely valuable, and that, as the Apostle Paul said, all earthly gain is worthless compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus.

To prepare for Sunday, read Matthew 6:19-34.


Sunday School: God’s people are to be shaped by God’s Word. As Ezra proclaimed God’s word, the people honored the voice of God and responded with repentance and were renewed. Likewise, biblical fellowship must be centered on God’s Word. As we gather together to listen to God speak to us through the Scriptures, we are challenged to repent, strengthened in our fellowship, and empowered for our mission. 


Community Kids:God never changes. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). All of who He is and what He is like, in all of His greatness and worth, will not diminish or change. This is a hard concept for us to understand. Children perceive change as something that is good and desired. They want to get bigger, stronger, and smarter. This lesson teaches children the great truth that God’s perfections, purposes, and promises will never change. All of the great things they are learning about God will forever be true!

Catechism Question: What else did God create?

Answer: God created all things and all his creation was very good.

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

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July 29th's playlist can be found here.

One of the songs we’re going to sing this Sunday is called “Singing in the Victory” (many of you will recognize it from our Good Friday service). The song calls us to remember the gospel grace and promises. One of my favorite lines says, “When I have forgotten the fullness of y