Close Menu X
Navigate

The Archives

 

June 13th, 2021.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that, if Christ has not been raised from the dead, his preaching and our faith is all in vain, and that we are the most pitiable of all people. The resurrection is that important! If Christ wasn’t raised, Christianity falls apart; everything else Jesus said and did would be invalidated. In his rising, he sealed his victory over sin and death, securing our salvation (this is why Romans 4 can say that he was “raised for our justification”). If Jesus is not alive, we are still dead in our sins, with no hope of eternal life, no freedom from sin’s dominion. But Paul goes on to say that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and all those who trust in him are no longer dead in their sins, but alive in him! We do not bow to sin or fear death, because our Lord rose victorious. Our hope is eternal and unshakable because Jesus is alive. 

To prepare for Sunday, read 1 Corinthians 15:12-22.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

June 6th, 2021.

One of my favorite extra-biblical quotes comes from an early church father named Augustine. He said, “O Lord, you have made for us yourself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in you.” That is to say, the deepest longings of our souls are met and fulfilled in Christ.  Every human being who has ever lived is locked in constant striving - striving to fill ourselves, fix something ourselves, or fix the world around us. It’s a tiring and ultimately futile pursuit; our best efforts are like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. We may look and feel a little better for a while, but we haven’t addressed the underlying issue, and the issue will eventually rear its ugly head again. 

Christ offers the full and final solution to all of our striving. Our search for meaning and joy ends in him. Our sinfulness and weakness are forgiven and redeemed in him, and he continuously sanctifies us. And he provides meaning and hope in the broken world we live in, promising to use all things for our good and to ultimately re-create the world in perfect righteousness. And, incredibly, Jesus invites us to come to him and experience this rest even while we’re still striving after the wrong things in the wrong ways! He doesn’t tell us to clean up our act, then run to him; he says to come while we’re weary, to come in the middle of our sin, our weakness, our doubt. It’s the person who recognizes their need, their restlessness, who finds perfect rest in Christ. As we head towards our service this Sunday, let’s ask God to to free us from our misguided, self-sufficient striving and lead us into deeper rest in Jesus,

To prepare for Sunday, read Matthew 11:25-30. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

May 30th, 2021.

John Piper has said that, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” The aim of our lives, and the rightful aim of all creation, is the glory of our Creator. But we have deviated from our highest purpose, and, to our shame, we’ve worshiped countless other things besides the only One who is truly worthy. As Christians, God has renewed that purpose and passion in us; though we do so imperfectly, we are now a people whose core longing is to glorify our Lord. Missions, at its heart, then, is about calling more people who suffer from the plague of misplaced worship to repent and believe, to see Christ as he is, in all his beauty, and to reorient their lives to do the thing they were created to do - worship the true and living God! 

This Sunday, we have the privilege of commissioning one of our members, Jasmine Kiernan, and sending her out for a year-long residency to prepare for full-time foreign missions. She plans to take the gospel to an unreached people group, and we all get to participate with her in calling more people to know and worship King Jesus. We’ll get to see God’s purpose fulfilled that people from every nation and tribe and language would shout his praise. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Revelation 7:9-17. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

May 23rd, 2021.

For some reason, as human beings, when we think about God, we default towards transactional, legalistic relationship. Our first thought is either, “What can God do for me?” or “What have I done for God to make him accept me?” If I feel like haven’t had a good enough week, haven’t read the Bible enough, have sinned a little too much, then I think I need to clean up my act before I can worship the Lord. Certainly, sanctification undoes this thinking over time, and the deeper we understand the gospel, the more we can fight back against that tendency. But the tendency still exists! But you and I bring nothing more to the table now than we did before we were converted. As unregenerate, hell-bound sinners, we needed Christ and nothing else; nothing we had or did could make us right with God. And likewise, when we come to him in worship, apart from Christ, we have nothing to offer. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t welcome us or our praise, though. In fact, it’s the opposite! Because we are in Christ, we are welcomed with open arms by the holy God, not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of who Jesus is and what he has done! Scripture tells us that our Lord inhabits our praises, that Christ himself is the One leading our worship, if you will, enabling and empowering our weary souls to praise the King. 

So, as you come to worship this Sunday, come empty-handed, but confident in Christ to worship the God of the universe. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 98.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

May 16th, 2021.

Psalm 100 tells us that we are God’s people, the sheep of his pasture. That’s a fairly common theme throughout Scripture that carries a lot of theological and experiential significance. A shepherd leads his sheep with tender care, guiding them to safe and lush pastures, as we read in another psalm. He protects his sheep from attacks and danger. And this is necessary, because the sheep aren’t able to do these things on their own! Without a competent shepherd, sheep die - quickly, but with a competent shepherd, they thrive.

Of course, we as God’s people have more than just a competent Shepherd; he is the Good Shepherd who perfectly tends his flock. Like sheep, we wander from his loving care and pursue things that ultimately lead to death. But our Shepherd faithfully chases us down, leaving the ninety-nine left in his fold for the one wandering towards danger. He guards us from spiritual wolves who threaten to destroy us, and he leads us to abundant life and fullness of joy in his presence. We are his forever, and he will keep us to eternity. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 100. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

May 9th, 2021

On Sunday, we’re going to learn a new song that comes straight from Psalm 34. This is a psalm of testimony, providing language for the people of God to rejoice in God’s mighty works for us. And it’s a very literal call to worship, as those who remember what God has done for them extend this invitation: “Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” 

One of the things I appreciate most about the song shows up in the bridge, where it says, “Let us bless the Lord every day and night, never-ending praise, may our incense rise.” Phrases like “every day and night” and “never-ending praise” describe something much more than just our songs! As we remind ourselves regularly, the way that we respond to God’s works for us is worship with every part of our lives. When we recognize the grace that we’ve been shown and are being shown constantly in Christ, we lay down our lives - imperfectly, to be sure - for the glory of God. We pursue a life in which every moment, every breath, is lived to proclaim his worth and majesty. 

Truly, we can say that we sought the Lord and he answered us and delivered us, that this poor man cried, and he rescued us. So, we invite each other to magnify his name, to make his praise glorious. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 34. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

May 2nd, 2021

There’s a lot of errant teaching out there about how the gospel relates to the pain and difficulty and sorrow we experience in a fallen world. Many people believe and teach that God’s purpose is always to remove our suffering, and that if we just believe and claim that enough, we will experience immediate relief. That’s pretty appealing! And, if we’re honest, even though we don’t affirm that teaching, we probably find ourselves functionally believing the same kinds of things, don’t we? We pray that God would relieve sorrow and suffering - and that’s good, we should pray for that! - and, when he doesn’t, we quickly question whether he’s failed us. 

But the gospel offers us a bigger picture and better hope in the midst of trials and suffering. It tells us that God is with us in our suffering, that he does not leave or forsake us. It reminds us that he is sovereign over all things; as Lamentations 3 says, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and bad come?” We don’t understand how his absolute sovereignty works, but isn’t it comforting to know that, whatever we’re experiencing, it’s not outside of God’s control? Beyond that, in his perfect goodness and love, he is working all things for our good. Sanctification is often painful, but God is using all things to form us to be more like Jesus, and to know and treasure Jesus more. The gospel tells us that God actually cares about our suffering. He is not detached or distant. Psalm 56:8 says, “[God] kept count of my tossing, put my tears in your bottle.” Hebrews tells us that Christ is a High Priest who sympathizes with us. Finally, the gospel guarantees eternity with no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering. Romans tells us that the our present suffering can’t even be compared to the glory that awaits in the presence of God! 

As we sojourn in a dark, broken world, full of difficulty and trials, may God teach our hearts to remember and believe these truths. The all-powerful God of the universe knows and cares about our pain, our struggles, our tears. He promises to be with us and to uphold us through deepest valleys, and to use all things for our good and for his glory.

To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 8:18-30. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

April 25th, 2021

To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 5:1-11.

This is a passage rich in gospel truth and promises, and it will guide our liturgy on Sunday. We’ll rejoice that Christ did not come to call those who falsely see themselves as righteous, but sinners. He redeems and works in those who acknowledge their need, their sinfulness, and their inability to make themselves right with God. We’ll remember the work of Christ that made our redemption possible - his living and dying in our stead that frees us from condemnation and wrath and makes us right with God. And we’ll testify to then peace, joy, healing, and rest that’s ours in Christ and that we will experience perfectly forever in his presence. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

April 18th, 2021. 

The further we go into 1 John, the more we’re going to hear about the love of God. We sometimes shy away from talking about God’s love for us, but, as Pastor Matt said a few weeks ago, it’s impossible to talk too much about his love. When God reveals himself in his glory to Moses in Exodus 34, he describes himself as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands.” Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people remember that definition. They’re constantly praising God for his steadfast love. In Ephesians 1, we read that it was “in love” that God chose us before the foundation of the world to be his children, it was love that brought Jesus to earth and held him on a cross for us. Nothing can separate us from this perfect, faithful, loyal love; it’s securely ours in Christ. 

This week, as we reflect on God’s love for us, we’re going to read a section of Psalm 136 responsively, where, 14 times, we’ll read a statement about God, followed by, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” May we praise God for his unfailing love, and may we find rest there. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 136.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

April 11th, 2021

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes that in Christ, we are new creations. The old nature has passed away, and a new nature has taken its place, one created and empowered by the Spirit living in us. We now live in freedom from the bondage and dominion of sin, freed to be and do what we are actually created to be and do! This new nature gives us the desire and ability to be like Jesus, to worship God with every part of our lives, as a grateful response to what God has done for us. Paul puts it like this: “The love of Christ compels us.” That’s a really incredible idea! What Christ has done for us and is doing in us through his Spirit creates our obedience; that’s why I say that it gives us both the desire and the ability to do what God commands. We don’t obey for God’s acceptance; rather, we obey because God has accepted us in Christ. 

This new identity has an inherently corporate dimension to it, as well. We are not re-created to be alone, floating islands of individualized theology and worship. Part of God’s purpose in the new creation is to create a new body, a distinct kingdom, made up of all kinds of people but united in Christ. What we do when we gather each Sunday is actually an expression of our new identity in Christ. We gather because God has gathered us, and we gather to affirm and edify each other as we remember who we are in Christ. 

To prepare for Sunday, read 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

April 2nd and 4th, 2021

Each year on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we very specifically focus on the finished work of the gospel, remembering Christ’s death and resurrection. As we head towards these services this year, let’s think about the immensity of God’s grace and love displayed to us in the gospel. Although we had done nothing to deserve salvation, and frankly, we had done everything to deserve eternal judgment, the Son of God, in accordance with the Father’s plan, willingly laid down his life for us. Our sin was so great, so heavy, that the only way God’s wrath could be assuaged was through the death of Christ. When we behold the Lamb of God, slain for us, we should grapple with the seriousness and the ugliness of our sin that required such sacrifice! But the gospel doesn’t leave us there, wallowing in self-loathing over the depth of our sin. Though we are are wholly unworthy of God’s affection and acceptance, the One who is worthy lived, died, and rose in our place, so that we might be accepted by God. We have died to our sin and been raised up with Christ, loved by the Father with the same love he has for his Son. We have been given a new identity and a new nature. We no longer live in bondage to sin, and we no longer fear the power of death, because Christ has won the victory over them on our behalf. These are the truths we remember, declare, and celebrate this weekend. May God give us eyes of faith to behold the slain Lamb, the risen King. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Luke 24:1-12.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

March 28th, 2021

As we head towards our gathering this Sunday, I want to turn our attention to the sufficiency of Christ. Sometimes we’ll say or sing things about Jesus being everything that we have, everything that we need. 

Christ is sufficient for our salvation. He is all we need to be right with God - the Way, the Truth, and the Life, without whom no one comes to the Father. He is sufficient for our sanctification. John 15 tells us that we bear fruit by abiding in Jesus. 

He is our only source of true, lasting joy in our longing and rest in our striving. Augustine famously prayed that “Our souls are restless until they find rest in you.” Psalm 16 testifies that, “In [God’s] presence is fullness of joy.” And in Matthew 15 Jesus offers and invitation to come to him and find rest. He is our Rock in suffering, the One who walks with us, upholds us, cares for us, and protects us. And any earthly suffering pales in comparison to the eternal glory and joy that is ours in Christ. 

Jesus is everything we need for all of life; he truly is sufficient. This is the kind of truth that we need to preach to ourselves and to each other again and again, reminding our souls of our Lord’s invitation to come, weary and heavy laden, and to find perfect rest in him. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Colossians 1:15-23.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

March 21st, 2021

If you’ve been around CBC for any length of time, you know that we love old stuff! We sing old songs and recite old creeds and prayers all the time, because we believe it’s important for us to be connected to the past. We’re not on an island as Christ’s Church; we stand in a long, long line of saints united in Christ. And there’s so much theological and doxological depth to be had in the words of these past generations! 

This year, we wrote a brand new take on one of these old songs, a hymn by Charles Wesley called “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” We’re going to learn the new tune and chorus this Sunday, so we’re familiar with it for our Easter celebration in just a few weeks. Wesley’s text is one of the richest expositions of Christ’s resurrection in any song, ancient or modern. We’ll sing about Christ’s victory over death, his once for all sacrifice to save us, and that the power of sin and death has been undone. The last verse of the hymn is my favorite: 

    Soar we now where Christ has led, alleluia 
    Following our exalted Head, alleluia 
    Made like him, like him we rise, alleluia 
    Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, alleluia 

These words unpack what theologians call Christ’s “federal headship.” That’s a fancy way of saying that Jesus’ work was accomplished in our place - that he perfectly represented us in his righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. Therefore, we participate in our Savior’s victory over sin and death; they have no more power over us. That’s a truth we can’t sing enough about! 

To prepare for Sunday, read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

March 14th, 2021.

The Nicene Creed testifies that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God…of the same essence as the Father.” In a nutshell, this is an affirmation of Jesus’ deity. John 1 calls him the Word of God who was in the beginning with God and who made everything in the universe. He is worthy of our praise simply because he is God. He is the Light who has shined into our darkness - the darkness of sin and the curse - and has given us life. He is, John goes on to tell us, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (we rightly talk and sing a lot about this!). As we behold the Lamb, we also behold the eternally existent, all-powerful, creating, sustaining God. Christ is glorious beyond comprehension or comparison.

Let’s ask God to show us the glory of Christ this week. 2 Corinthians makes it clear that it’s only through Christ, by the power of his Spirit, that we’re able to see his glory. The Spirit illuminates the glory of God to us through the Word of God. So, we read the Word, we meditate on it, we sing, we pray it, we preach it, and we trust that God’s Spirit will do the work only he can do.

To prepare for Sunday, read 2 Corinthians 3:7-18. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

March 7th, 2021.

God’s wrath is an irreplaceable part of who he is. It’s part of why he’s glorious and worthy of our worship. His wrath is completely righteous; it’s the just and inevitable posture of a holy God towards sin. Scripture is replete with descriptions and predictions of God’s wrath. Sometimes, it’s expressed towards the people of Israel for their idolatry and covenant-breaking; sometimes, it’s expressed towards the enemies of his people. Ultimately, it’s expressed in eternal damnation for all who reject God. 

We can easily feel a little bit confused or even put off when we read these passages; they are often brash and even violent. But this really indicates misunderstanding on our part, not injustice on God’s! We undersell, if you will, God’s holiness, his righteousness, and his justice. And human nature is to downplay our own sin, to see ourselves as better than we really are. Together, these create a lethal combination, a broken metric that leads us to conclude that God is unjustly harsh in his response to mankind’s sin. 

On the contrary, though, the just wrath of God magnifies his grace, and vice versa. As we grow in our understanding of God’s right response to sin, the provision of Christ as our substitute becomes that much more beautiful to us. We’re going to sing Sunday that, “On the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” God’s wrath towards us is not diminished or forgotten; it has been absorbed by Christ! Jesus drained the cup of God’s wrath, so that we don’t have to drink it. We have taken refuge in the righteous Son of God, our substitute.

To prepare for Sunday, read Nahum 1. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

February 28th, 2021

We talk a lot around our church about being “gospel-centered,” meaning that the good news of who Jesus is and what he’s done defines everything that we do. The end of 1 Corinthians 1 gives us a nice, concise statement about gospel centrality, saying that, “Christ has become to us righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” We clearly see how Christ is our righteousness and sanctification, but we probably don’t think as much about Christ as our sanctification; that’s a little bit more difficult to understand on the surface, isn’t it? 

But the gospel is for our sanctification. It’s because we are united to Christ, with his power at work through his Spirit dwelling within us, that we are able to fight sin and pursue worship and holiness. In fact, those things are absolutely impossible without Christ’s power in us! Jesus defeated sin and dismantled its power by his death and resurrection, and, if we are in Christ, we participate in that victory! We are no longer slaves to sin, and we live in the resurrection power of Jesus that crushes sin and gives us new affections. The gospel orients and empowers us to live no longer for ourselves, but for God - to know and glorify him. This is  what it means for Christ to be our sanctification; this is the gospel for every part of life. 

To prepare for Sunday, read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

February 21st, 2021

When we think about God’s holiness, our minds tend to go straight to his sinlessness, his perfect righteousness. That’s certainly part of his holiness, but it’s not the entirety of what it means for God to be holy. The essence of holiness is otherness; God is not like anything or anyone else in his creation, in any way.

The prophet Jeremiah captures this idea when he declares, “There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” He compares God to the idols that the nations worshiped, stone and wood made be men, and concludes that they are “stupid and worthless.” In contrast, the Lord is the true and living God, the everlasting King. He rules in untouchable power over kings and kingdoms; he is sovereign over every molecule that has ever existed or ever will exist. And his wrath shakes the very foundations of the earth; no idol nor idol-worshiper can stand in the face of his indignation towards sin. 

Jeremiah ends the passage in a striking way. After expounding on the Lord’s holiness, power, and wrath, he says that this God is the portion of Jacob. This is significant for us, because this is true for more than just the people of Israel in the OT; it’s true for all the people of God, anyone redeemed by the work of Christ. The just wrath of our holy God has been satisfied, because he poured it out on his Son. Christ - the living God, the Sovereign over the universe - became man for our salvation, so that we could know him as our portion and joy and crown.

To prepare for Sunday, read Jeremiah 10:6-16. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

Febuary 14th, 2021

At the heart of the gospel is this truth: Jesus stands in our place. While we could unpack that from countless angles (all of them worthy of our attention!), I want to direct our thoughts to a familiar verse from last Sunday’s sermon text. 1 John 1:9 says that, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us.” Do you see the significance of that? God does not begrudgingly forgive and cleanse his children; it’s actually just of him to do that! The opening verses of chapter 2 explain why: Jesus himself stands before God on our behalf. He represents us, as both our substitute and mediator. God is faithful and just to forgive us because we don’t stand before God on our own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ. We have been declared righteous by the holy and just Judge, because of what Christ has done. But Christ himself is our Advocate before the Father, pleading his blood and righteousness for us. 

How good is that good news? If we have any sort of accurate understanding of ourselves, it is indescribably good! Were we to stand before God on the basis of our own righteousness, we’d be condemned immediately. Not a speck of sin can remain in the presence of God! That means that the human race is universally and unequivocally without hope. But Christ pleads for us, on the basis of his righteous life and sacrificial death, and we are eternally welcomed and accepted by the Father. Even when we sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us. And we are free to pursue holiness and obedience because we are accepted by God, instead of obeying to earn his acceptance. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Hebrews 9:11-28.

*****

February 7th, 2021

An important but sometimes neglected part of corporate worship is confession. As we behold the glory of our holy God in our worship gatherings, our sinfulness is clearly revealed. We see ourselves truly and accurately in light of who God is. But there’s an important communal aspect to our confession; it’s essential to what we call, “helping each other make it home.” We edify and encourage each other in our struggle with sin and in our pursuit of Christ, and we remind each other of our gospel identity.

We practice corporate confession many different ways in our services - usually through a song or a passage of Scripture that acknowledges our sin and points us to Jesus for hope and forgiveness. This week, we’ll have a very clear moment of confession when we read part of Psalm 51 responsively. We’ll ask God to have mercy on us and to restore to us the joy of our salvation. Then, we’ll rejoice in the truth that he is faithful and just to cleanse us of our sins because of what Jesus has done, and that, though our sins are many, God’s mercy to us in Christ is infinitely more. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 51:1-12. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

January 24th, 2021

There is nothing more important for the church to do than to behold the glory of Christ. He reveals to us the glory of the invisible God; he fulfills all the Law and Prophets. He heals the the sick and pursues the lost sinner; he causes all the powers of darkness to tremble. His death accomplishes our salvation, and his rising confirms that his redemptive work was indeed finished and sufficient, and it secures for us eternal life. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and his name is exalted above every other name in the universe. He rules over all things, working every circumstance for his glory, yet he cares for each of us personally, upholding and sustaining us as we walk in the path of the gospel. And he will one day come again in power, destroying his enemies once and for all and ushering in a new creation where justice and righteousness will reign; where there is no more need for the sun, because he himself will be our Light; where God will dwell with us eternally. 

It is our holy privilege and duty to meditate on Christ, to feast on the Bread of Life, to worship the One to whom every knee will one day bow in reverence. He alone is worthy! And it is in beholding and worshiping Christ that we find true joy and rest, that we find power to overcome our sin, and hope in the darkness of a sin-cursed world. Before we gather on Sunday to lift up the name above every other name, take a few minutes to meditate on the surpassing glory of our King. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Philippians 2:5-11.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

January 17th, 2021

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate the baptism of seven people in our services. Baptism symbolizes our new life in Christ. Scripture tells us that we have been crucified with Christ; the “old man” - our sin nature - has been dealt a death blow. We are no longer in bondage to sin; we’ve been freed from its power over our lives and from the eternal condemnation it brings. Now, 2 Corinthians tells us, “The new has come!” Where there was just the decaying deadness of sin, there is now new life, eternal life, in Christ. 

All of this is secured for us by Jesus. He died and rose as our substitute - taking our punishment on himself and then rising victorious over sin and the grave, that we too might be raised to eternal life. As we celebrate what God has done in and for those we baptize, we remember and celebrate that same work in our lives. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but we have been rescued and made alive. We are not under sin’s dominion; we have resurrection power alive and at work in us, conforming us to the image of Jesus. This is the good news! 

To prepare for Sunday, read 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

January 10th, 2021

The book of Psalms - the hymnbook of God’s people in the Old Testament - ends with a triumphant call to worship the Lord, the final words of Psalm 150 saying “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” While the Psalm is simple, its implications are profound. Everything that exists, exists to declare the glory of God; this is the ultimate purpose of all creation. Scripture is replete with references to nature doing just that. How much more, then, human beings, who can actually know God and worship with understanding and intention! And beyond mere cognitive ability, Christians worship as those who don’t just know things about God, but as people who know him personally and have experienced his unimaginable grace and mercy in the gospel! 

So, as the people of God, we get to live out our highest calling as we worship. We have been given breath that we might pour that breath back out in praise. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be part of a church that loves to sing, and a church that understands that worship is a way of life, not just something we do on Sunday. As we learn a new hymn this Sunday that unpacks Psalm 150, we reflect on God’s immeasurable greatness, and we remind ourselves of the privilege and responsibility of worship.  

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 150.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

January 3rd, 2021

On the first Sunday in this new year, we want to step back and remind ourselves of God’s abundant goodness and kindness to us. Psalm 107, which will be our call to worship this Sunday, says to, “Give thanks to the Lord…let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” It goes on to remind the hearers of various ways he has expressed goodness and grace to them. Though the Psalm is written in the context of OT Israel and uses examples from their history, we taste the goodness of God in the same ways. Like the children of Israel, we have been rescued and freed from bondage to sin and darkness. We have been led, hungry and desperate, to heavenly bread and living water. We have been carried through deserts and valleys, through deep trials and suffering, by our loving Shepherd. 

And, like the children of Israel, we are prone to forget what God has done. Even though we’ve seen God’s faithfulness before, even though he’s delivered us and provided for us over and over in the past, we question whether he can or will in the future. The Lord knows this is our sinful tendency; that’s why he tells us so many times to actively remember what he’s done, to remind ourselves and each other of his goodness. Then, we’re moved to respond, as the Psalm says, by thanking the Lord for his steadfast love and telling of his deeds in songs of joy. May God be glorified as we remember, retell, and respond to his steadfast love and wondrous works this Sunday. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 107:1-22.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

December 27th, 2020

The end of the year always causes us to reflect, doesn’t it? We think back on the past year, at what we’ve done, what we have’t done, how we’ve changed, the things that have happened around us and across the world. We think about the year ahead. It makes us stop and sort of take stock of our lives in a unique way. As Christians, this drives us to God. It reminds us that our days are in his hands, that his plans are greater and higher than ours, and that he works in higher ways than we can even imagine. We’re reminded that it’s in him alone that we move and have our being - that we are quite literally nothing without him. We’re drawn to trust in his living sovereignty that’s constantly working for his glory and our good. 

As we come to the end of probably the strangest year any of us have lived through, let’s ask God to use the trials of 2020 to teach us to number our days and to form us, individually and corporately, to know, love, and imitate Christ more and more. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 90.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

December 20th, 2020

I want to highlight a lyric from one of the carols we’ll sing this week - “O Holy Night.” The first verse says, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” The world feels really weary right now, doesn’t it? This was a long, difficult year. The difficulty and the weariness aren’t new to 2020, but 2020 sure accented just how broken and weary our world is, didn’t it? Sin and darkness press in all around; all creation groans for redemption and restoration. 

But in the weariness, we rejoice, because a new day has dawned with the coming of Christ. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus defeated sin. He crushed the power of the enemy and freed a hopeless and weary world. I love the way it’s described in the song: “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” It’s like we can see the sun beginning to rise in the distance. It’s not daylight yet, but the bright, warm afternoon sun will be here soon; the breaking of morning guarantees it. The darkness will end, sin will be no more, and there will be no more weariness, because the Savior, the Lamb of God, the King of righteousness, the Light of the world, has come. 

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

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

December 13th, 2020.

At Christmas, we talk a lot - as we should! - about Christ as a little baby, weak, humble, and helpless. And the mystery of God in flesh is worth thinking and talking about! But, particularly as we read what the Old Testament said about the coming of the Messiah, we see another side of the incarnation, one of power and majesty. We read that the government would rest on the shoulders of this coming child. He would judge the wicked and punish sin, and he would establish his rule in peace and righteousness forever. That’s not something you pick up from your average Hallmark Christmas card or nativity scene! But, as we behold Jesus in the manger, we bow before an all-powerful King and Judge, one who is worthy of all honor and reverence and worship and obedience - Christ, the Lord. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Isaiah 9:2-7.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

December 6th, 2020

When Mary is told of Christ’s coming birth, she sings a song of praise, recorded in Luke 1. She testifies that God has looked on her humble estate and exalted her, that he who is mighty has done great things for her. Our souls resonate with her testimony and echo her words, don’t they? God has looked on us, humble sinners, in mercy. That’s Christmas! He who is mighty does a great work for people who rejected and dishonored him. 

He accomplishes this work through Christ’s own humiliation. Philippians 2 says that Christ humbled himself by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and submitting to the Father’s plan even to death on a cross. As we are humble and weak, so our Savior became humble and weak, first as a helpless baby, then eventually in his death as our atoning sacrifice. But the story doesn’t end with humiliation; it ends with exaltation! Because Jesus died and rose, he has been given a name above every other name, a name that is worthy of eternal glory and adoration. And we, united to Christ, participate both in his humiliation and his exaltation; we are among the many sons and daughters who have been brought to glory (Heb. 2). 

Christ was humbled as we are humble, that we might be exalted as he is exalted. Truly, he who is mighty has done great things for us. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Luke 1:46-55. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

November 29th, 2020

The Advent season is an invitation to the people of God to both remember and anticipate. We look back at Christ’s first coming, rejoicing at the arrival of the Lamb who would bear our sins, and we look forward to Christ’s second coming, anticipating the day when our righteous King sets all wrongs right and makes all things new. We’re going to open our Advent celebration by reading from Isaiah 11 this Sunday. That passage foretells the coming of Messiah, but it paints a picture that we have not yet seen - one where righteousness reigns, and where fear and violence are undone. The “branch of Jesse,” as Christ is described in Isaiah 11, has come, and he has won a full and final victory over his enemies. But he will come again to consummate his kingdom and to destroy sin and death forever.

We’re also going to introduce a new song for Advent on Sunday called “O Come, All You Unfaithful.” The invitation of Advent is not to those who see themselves as righteous or faithful. Quite the opposite, Christ came, “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  This is good news for us, because not one of us is faithful. Not one of us is righteous, save for Jesus himself. That certainly isn’t to say that a song like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” is bad; it’s a great song, and we’ll be singing that in a couple weeks as well! But we don’t get a pass at Christmastime on reckoning with our sinfulness and brokenness. But, praise God, Christ was born to rescue the sinner. He came for the lost and weary and fearful and doubting ones. We come just as we are, and he begins to remake us, to form us into his image, for his own glory. As we sing this song over the next month, we testify and celebrate the gospel! 

To prepare for Sunday, read Isaiah 11:1-10. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The setlist for November 22nd, 2020 can be found here

Psalm 103 calls us to bless the Lord as we remember the many benefits and blessings he has poured out on us. The first 5 verses give us a short list of these blessings: God forgives our iniquity, heals our diseases, redeems our lives from then pit, crowns us with steadfast love and mercy, and satisfies our souls with good - that is, with himself. These blessings are ours in Christ; they are gospel blessings. Nothing can take them away, nothing can change them. We are redeemed, welcomed into the family of God, and satisfied as we feast on the Bread of Life. 

We’re going to sing our way through these 5 verses on Sunday, remembering what God has done for us and blessing his holy name with all that is within us.

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 103:1-5.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

November 15th, 2020

To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 5:6-21. 

I’m going to be intentionally brief this week. Romans 5 is a rich, beautiful gospel exploration, so, before Sunday read through these verses, and simply spend a few minutes considering the depth of God’s love and grace. We were enemies of God, completely undeserving of grace and salvation. But where our sin abounded, grace abounded even more in Christ. Where there was death, there is now eternal life. We are blessed beyond measure or comprehension in Christ; may we remember and respond to this glorious gospel grace. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

November 8th, 2020

We are people of the Word. Our God has spoken, and what he has said defines us, forms us, teaches us, directs us, sustains us, changes us. In Scripture we behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; we are assured of God’s steadfast love and unfailing promises to his people; and we are instructed in living a life worthy of our calling in the gospel. 

Sundays give us an opportunity to read, pray, sing, and teach the Word. We want the Bible to guide and fill everything we do in a service. In fact, this Sunday, we’ll sing songs that come from Isaiah 43 (How Firm A Foundation), John 17-19 (Passion Hymn), Revelation 5 (Is He Worthy), and Psalm 18 (O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer). We’ll be led in a prayer shaped by a psalm, and we’ll hear a sermon expositing a passage of Scripture.  

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 119:33-40, and ask God to give us a hunger and reverence for his Word, not just in our services, but in all of our lives. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

November 1st, 2020

Some familiar verses at the beginning of Hebrews 12 remind us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and the end of the chapter describes what we see when we do that: an eternal, undefeated King who rules an unshakeable kingdom. When we behold Christ, as the Scripture tells us to, we are reminded of our true citizenship, our true King, and our true hope. As we come to the end of a bitterly contentious election season and approach one of the most divisive elections in our nation’s history, let’s get our eyes and our hope set on heaven. Let’s ask God to help us remember who we are in Christ, to unite us in him, and to fix our hope in his unshakeable kingdom and not human candidates, systems, parties, or policies. Only Jesus could redeem sinful people like us, and only Jesus can (and will!) right all wrongs. 

That certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t care what happens next Tuesday and beyond; we absolutely do. Faithful citizens of heaven make great citizens of earthly nations and kingdoms!   But the gospel calls us to lift our eyes to our King, to worship and trust in him alone. So, Community Bible Church, let’s pursue that, by the grace of God. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Hebrews 12. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for October 25th, 2020 can be found here

Scripture is full of the idea of feasting. At the end of time, after the final judgment, the people of God partake in the marriage supper of the Lamb. But, while we do feast, in that sense, with God, there’s also a sense in which we feast on God. The Psalms call us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life, and says that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life. As God provided manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness, so he has provided himself to his people in the New Covenant. This means that every Sunday, we get together for a family meal. We join our brothers and sisters to feast on the goodness and grace of our Lord, to enjoy him and be satisfied by all that he is, and to get a glimpse of the eternal feast God is preparing for his people. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 34. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for October 18th can be found here.

We’re going to teach a song this week called “Jesus is Better.” The truths in this song are so poignant for the season we’re living - a time when, more than I’ve ever experienced, at least, there are so many voices and ideologies, false hopes and counterfeit saviors, competing for our attention and worship and trust. The first verse reminds us that our hope is built on the Rock of Ages: 

    There is no other so sure and steady; my hope is held in your hand 
    Though castles crumble and breath is fleeting, upon this Rock I will stand 

In the chorus, we affirm that our allegiance and worship is due to Christ alone: 

    Glory, glory, we have no other King but Jesus, Lord of all
    Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring; we crown him Lord of all 

If we’re honest with ourselves, though, we have to admit that, while we know those things are true, it’s difficult or us to actually believe that they’re true. We resonate with the father in Mark 9 who, in asking Jesus to cast a demon out of his son, cries, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Our belief that Christ is our all-sufficient Lord, Rock, and Savior is mixed with unbelief. In the bridge, we acknowledge this, and ask that God would give us faith to believe what is true about Christ: 

    In all my sorrows, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 
    In every victory, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 
    Than any comfort, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 
    More than all riches, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 
    Our souls declaring, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 
    Our song eternal, Jesus is better; make my heart believe 

Let’s ask the Lord to make our hearts believe that Jesus is better than anything else we look to for joy, strength, and hope. To prepare for Sunday, read Matthew 7:24-27.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for October 11th, 2020 can be found here.

In a culture obsessed with self-improvement and self-worth, the gospel offers a very different narrative. It does, indeed, give us worth, and it does improve us. But it has nothing to do with self! Our “improvement” and our worth are defined by Jesus Christ. He sanctifies us by the power of his Spirit, conforming us to his image, for his glory. And he makes us children of God, united to him in his death, resurrection, and reign. He has become for us, Paul says, wisdom and righteousness and sanctification. 

The world tells us to pursue meaning and purpose by looking within for self-improvement and self-esteem. The gospel tells us that meaning and purpose and joy are found in dying to self, being united to Christ, and conformed to his image. There’s no good in us apart from Christ, but, in Christ, we are complete, justified, co-heirs of all things. We stand before the Father not on our own merit, but on the merit of Son of God, the righteous One. We are accepted and loved by God because Jesus is accepted and loved. So we joyfully lay down our lives that we might truly live in him who is our righteousness, our life, our Shepherd, our hope, our joy, and our boast.

To prepare for Sunday, read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for October 4th, 2020 can be found here

Romans 8 says that all creation, and especially the children of God, are groaning for redemption, for the new creation. It goes on to recount gospel promises, reminding us that, if God is for us, no one can stand against us, and that nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Our hope in a fallen world as we wait for Christ’s return is the gospel. Because of what Jesus has done, we know that sin and death will not triumph over us. We don’t fear suffering, because we are eternally secure in Christ. We don’t fear evil powers and rulers, because we serve a righteous King who rules in sovereign power over the entire universe. In the midst of the brokenness, as we groan and wait, we rest in the finished work of Christ that has made us sons and daughters loved by the Father. 

To prepare for Sunday, read Romans 8:18-39.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The setlist for September 20th, 2020 can be found here

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 111. This Psalm begins by declaring, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.” I don’t know about you, but whenever I read something like that, I feel a pang of conviction, because I know my own heart. I know that, even on the best moment of my best day, my heart is divided, or at least distracted. How do we move in the direction of whole-hearted worship? Psalm 111 offers some direction; it’s by remembering the Lord’s works. The psalmist tells us that the Lord’s works are great, and that he has revealed them to his people. He redeems and provides for us; he has commanded his covenant forever. The Lord himself causes his works to be remembered; he is at work among us, displaying his glory through his Word. So, as we worship on Sunday, we call to mind the Lord’s wondrous works. We remind each other of God’s power and faithfulness as we read and sing the Word, and God graciously uses our ministry to each other to “cause his works to be remembered” in our church. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for September 13th, 2020 can be found here

The fourth verse of "Only A Holy God" begins by asking, “Who else could rescue me from my failing?” That’s a powerful little line, packed full of theology and meaning! We have sinned against an infinite God, so our sin is of cosmic and infinite proportion. We have defied his rule and dishonored his name; nothing we could do could even begin to atone for such sin; only God himself could rescue us from the punishment we deserve. Think about that: the very One who we have sinned against so egregiously - this majestic, holy, God - mercifully reached for us while we were dead in our sins and rebelling against him. Where no human work could suffice, he worked salvation in us and for us. No greater love or grace exists that this! Leading into our gathering this Sunday, take a few minutes to reflect on God’s gracious work of salvation by reading Psalm 145. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for September 6th, 2020 can be found here

Many of you are probably familiar with a song we’re going to sing as a church for the first time this Sunday called “Is He Worthy.” It comes from Revelation 5, a passage that opens with a vision of God seated on his throne and holding a sealed scroll. This scroll contains God’s plan to consummate and restore all things - to bring judgment on sin and the wicked, to rescue the saved, and to establish his kingdom in justice and righteousness for all eternity. What follows is an intense, vivid scene, as saints and angels gather around the throne asking if there is anyone worthy to break the seal and open the scroll, if there’s anyone worthy to bring about this final consummation of God’s plan. And there’s no one! Think about who’s a part of this gathering - Moses, who led the people of Israel out of slavery; King David, a man after God’s own heart; the angels Gabriel and Michael, leaders of hosts of angels. But none of them is worthy to open the scroll.

But - you know where this is going - there is One who is worthy! Verse 5 calls him, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” He’s the Lamb of God, slain for our salvation and raised to life in victory. When the throng gathered at the throne beholds Jesus, they declare “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals!” Jesus Christ is worthy. He is worthy to set all things right, to do away with sin and suffering forever.

What’s our response to this vision of Christ? Immediately, we recognize that we worship; we join in the song of heaven, praising our glorious Savior. But we also hope. We feel the brokenness and darkness of this sin-cursed world in the chaos around us, in our own struggle with sin, in our own suffering and sorrow. But we are hopeful and confident, looking ahead to the sure promise that the King will return in victory to make all things right. To him be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! 

To prepare for Sunday, read Revelation 5. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for August 30th, 2020 can be found here.

In Psalm 8, David reflects on God’s glory and majesty, then asks, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man, that you care for him?” That kind of self-awareness runs so counter to what our culture tells us, doesn’t it? We are surrounded by messages of self-actualization and empowerment, constantly encouraged to love ourselves, to have a greater sense of self-worth. Without question, every human being has inherent worth, as God’s creation, made in his image. But we are intrinsically marred, born in sin, far from God, and unworthy of eternal life. When we behold the glory of God through Scripture, when we consider his beauty as displayed in creation, when we ponder his perfections, we must ask the same question that King David asked: “Why would you care for a lowly, idolatrous sinner like me?” Yet we know that he has cared for us, and he is mindful of us; he loves us. Nowhere is this demonstrated more fully and beautifully than in the gospel work of Christ. The second Person of the Trinity, God himself, took on human flesh and bones and lived among us. He experienced pain and sorrow and weakness, and he bore our sin, our guilt, as our sacrifice. Praise God that he has condescended to us, that, in all his majesty and splendor, he cares for us and has reached in mercy and grace to bring us to himself.

To prepare for Sunday, read Psalm 8. 

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for August 23rd, 2020 can be found here

Isaiah 6:1-8 reflects the theological flow of our weekly liturgies, and this week in particular, we’re going to read the passage, broken up throughout the service, as we behold and respond to who God is and what he’s done. 

Isaiah 6 opens with a vision of the Lord on his throne, in all his glory and majesty. Angels surround the throne, singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” Worship always begins with a correct view of who God is. After beholding the glory of God, Isaiah recognizes his sin, and the sin of the people of Israel. In stark contrast to God’s holiness, he declares, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” But there is hope for the one far from God, as the prophet is told that, “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Then, God asks, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” In light of the sight of the glory of the Lord and the truth of redeeming grace, Isaiah responds, “Here I am; send me.” 

This is the story of the gospel that we are called to remember and retell. We behold the glory, the majesty, the holiness of God, and we stand in awe. But we also come face to face with out sinfulness, and with the chasm our sin created between us and God. Then, we are assured of forgiveness, salvation, and new life in Christ. Finally, we are sent out on mission to live and breathe for the glory of God, and to carry the good news of the gospel to the world.  

To prepare for Sunday, read Isaiah 6:1-8.

 

Grace,

Pastor Joseph

*****

The playlist for Sunday, August 16th can be found here.

One of the songs we’ll sing this Sunday, King of Kings, says in the fourth verse, “Now this gospel truth of old shall not kneel, shall not faint.” Think about how powerful that statement is! No matter the opposition, whether in the form of institutionalized, governmental persecution of the church in places like Iran or China, or in the cold, resistant heart of a skeptical family member, the gospel goes forward. Why is that? Because the gospel’s power doesn’t come from those of us who carry the message; it comes from God himself. God’s plan of redemption cannot be thwarted; his kingdom’s advance cannot be stopped. As we gather on Sunday, we celebrate the life-giving, unstoppable good news about how Jesus is and what’s he’s done. And as we’re