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May 1, 2016 - Be Careful of Standing So Tall That You Are Outside the Light of Christ - Matthew 5:1-3

posted May 5, 2016, 12:37 PM by Grant Garber

  • To be yoked to Jesus means that His own character begins to develop within us as the Spirit binds us to the Savior.
  • The Beatitudes provide a fabulous description of what this new character is that Jesus is building in all of our lives.
  • The meaning of “blessing” for us in the Beatitudes has nothing to do with the promise that you can, through spirituality, transcend the cares of this world. It has everything to do with finding the right path by being yoked to Jesus.
“blessed are the poor in spirit” = “blessed are the spiritual destitute”
  • The right path home comes by confessing that you have lost your way.
  • Those who are poor in spirit never feel like saints. Everyone who feels like a saint, isn’t one.
  • No arrogance is worse than spiritual arrogance.
  • Jesus brings us, as His contemporary disciples, constantly to the moments when we have to encounter our spiritual poverty.
  • The point of this first Beatitude is not to say that you are unworthy. Your life is filled with worth. The point is to make clear how this worth is found. Our worth is found in the love of the Son who comes for us, who forgives us, who restores us. Our worth is found in the love of the Father who, like the father of the prodigal, runs down the road to embrace this one who was lost. Our worth comes from the love of the Spirit who amazingly adopts us into the triune family of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and you and me and all who receive the light of Christ.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:1-3

April 24, 2016 - You’re Yoked to Jesus - Matthew 11:28-30

posted May 5, 2016, 12:33 PM by Grant Garber

  • It seems to me that a lot of people are trudging along these days.
  • Doesn’t Jesus help with any of this? Yes. But maybe not the way we are thinking.
  • In trying to make our lives easier, we somehow always seem to make them harder.
“easy” = “crestos” = “good”, “kind”, “fitting”
  • When Jesus says His yoke is easy, it’s easy not because it's stress-free. It’s easy because it’s fitting. It’s the yoke we were designed to wear.
  • The salvation Jesus offers is not one that removes burdens, but one that gives us the right burden to bear – like the burdens of goodness and kindness.
  • Freedom is not found by doing less or by letting go of things, but by holding, bearing the right things, the things that are fitting – the things that make you good, kind, easy.
  • What Jesus is offering when He says, “Take my yoke upon you…” is the invitation to be bound up with Him.
  • If Jesus is the One leading us, then it’s not to break our backs. It is only to witness, to see, His work.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 11:28-30

April 17, 2016 - Life Isn’t Something You Fix On Your Own - II Kings 5:1-5, 9-14

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:32 PM by Grant Garber

  • It just doesn’t matter that you have been successful.  You are still as vulnerable as any other human being.
  • What are you going to do when the hurt finds you?
  • When you know that there is something very wrong in your life, and you lose all the little distractions of life like fame and success, you are willing to try anything.  You will even come here – to the place where the power of God is rumored to be found.
  • Again, we discover that it is the lowly servant who understands about real power.  Real power belongs to God.  It is always the servants in the story who are making a difference.  Maybe that’s because they don’t have so much success blocking their vision of God.
  • We are good at doing difficult things.  But nothing is more difficult than faith, which calls you to believe the message that salvation belongs to God.  All that we have is a message.
  • We are never more than ordinary. 
  • The more we come to terms with being ordinary, the more we learn to enjoy it.  It has something to do with now being able to enjoy how extraordinary God is.
  • The point of our brokenness is to remind us that we are not gods.  It is the only way to come to know and enjoy God.
  • All of our lives are spent somewhere between the first and seventh time of doing the right thing, the ordinary thing that the message of the Bible tells us.  
  • The point of the story is to see that life isn’t something that you fix on your own.  It was given to you by the grace of God, and it will be restored only by the grace of God.  Those who believe that will find joy in simply doing the ordinary things they know to be right.  And anyone who has found joy in being ordinary is already healed.
Pastor Jim Spon | II Kings 5:1-5, 9-14

April 10, 2016 - The Scandal of the Gospel - Matthew 18:23-35

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:29 PM by Grant Garber

  • Being merciful is certainly admirable, but aren’t there limits?
  • The scandal of the Gospel is that we owed God more than could ever be repaid because we sinned against Him, but out of the depths of His mercy God forgave the debt and set us free.  This is where the discussion of forgiveness begins – not with how merciful we have to be to those who hurt us, but with how merciful God has been with us.
  • Out of His steadfast love, God has forgiven and forgotten all our sins.
  • Maybe God doesn’t remember our confessed sin very well, but we sure do.  This may be the only thing we do better than God – remember sin.
  • If you keep confessing what God has already forgiven, if you keep rolling the guilt over and over in your mind, it means you haven’t accepted the forgiveness.
  • God forgives and forgets our sin because He would rather have a relationship with us than justice without us.
  • The worst thing that happens to us when we don’t accept God’s mercy is that we don’t become merciful.
  • If you refuse to forgive another, that can only mean that you have refused to take to heart God forgiveness of you, and that can only mean that you are still imprisoned and not free.
  • We persist in asking Peter’s question because we persist in defining ourselves by our hurts.
  • Remember how God responded to the hurt you caused Him, and do likewise.  We can’t call ourselves Christians, or those who live in Christ, and say that we don’t know how to forgive.
  • This isn’t to say that you have to keep being hurt by someone or even that you need to stay in a relationship with the person who is abusing you. But it is to ask, “Aren’t you tired of living a life defined by hurt?”
  • The great sin of our day is ingratitude, and it just makes us useless to the mission of God.  Grateful people find that giving mercy isn’t all that hard.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 18:23-35

April 3, 2016 - Being Like a Tree Planted By Living Waters - Psalm 1

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:25 PM by Grant Garber

  • It is striking to me how much pessimism there is among us.
  • One of the great ironies of history is that in times of great depression and adversity, people tend to pull together, work for the common good, and reassure themselves that tomorrow will be better.  But in times of relative prosperity, like we live in today, we each tend our own gardens as rugged individualists.
  • Whenever it was that we dismantled all traditional claims upon the individual’s life, we were assuming that everyone inherently knew who he or she was and what they wanted in life.  But the terrible irony is that, by removing the individual from our great traditions, we only made it impossible to know ourselves or our purposes in life.  That has left us each with the impossible burden of trying to create a good life.
  • As the psalmist today claims, we are like chaff blowing in the wind.
  • The alternative the Psalmist presents us is to be a tree planted by streams of water.  That is what worship is all about. 
  • To plant yourself by this stream is to come to worship, week after week, where you are reminded that your identity isn’t a construction of choice but an inheritance.
“liturgy”  =  “laos” – “public”
“ergon” – “work”
“private/personal rituals”  =  “orgia”
  • The only thing that keeps our worship from digressing into an orgy of private religious feelings is if we leave here renewed in our identity and our mission.
  • We don’t worship for our sake; we worship for the sake of the world.
  • Real change will come when the people who worship rediscover their holy visions of our life together.  We don’t transform our society by starting with our leaders.  We start with the led – with you and me.
  • We can be that kind of church.  We can be a tree planted by streams of water…whose leaf does not wither.
Pastor Jim Spon | Psalm 1

March 27, 2016 - The Risen Savior – Experience His Peace - John 20:19-21a

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:20 PM by Grant Garber

Jack Doyle | John 20:19-21a

March 20, 2016 - Who Is This? - Matthew 21:1-11

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:17 PM by Grant Garber

Mike Nottingham | Matthew 21:1-11

March 13, 2016 - Come Home Into the Father’s Arms - Luke 15:25-32

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:11 PM by Grant Garber

  • Why is the elder brother too angry to rejoice and celebrate over his brother’s return home?  He is looking for a reward.
  • There is no reward for that which is expected.
  • The elder brother is confusing rewards and celebration. 
  • Whatever your argument is with your brothers and sisters in the family of faith, it is usually first an argument with God.  That is where all resolutions have to begin.
  • What the Heavenly Father is concerned about is not with being right, but with being righteous.  Jesus’ point is that the only way any of us are made righteous is by getting our lives back in the Father’s arms and entering the joy of being at home with Him.
  • To be dead right is to insist on the correctness of your position to the point that you hurt others and hurt yourself. 
  • As long as the elder brother insists on being dead right, he will never know the righteousness that is found only in a household of grace.
  • Choosing to enter the community of restored relationships with the Father doesn’t mean that you have to give up believing you are right.  It just means that you have to stop worshipping it.
  • What happens next?  Come home to the Father’s arms, where love is never a reward.
Pastor Jim Spon | Luke 15:25-32

March 6, 2016 - The Point Is Not to Be Right, But Joyful - Luke 15:25-30

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:07 PM by Grant Garber

  • The elder brother’s problem is that he isn’t really that bad.
  • The issue with sin isn’t about its quantity or its quality, but its effects.  And it is always the same.  Sin is anything that keeps you out of the Father’s arms.
  • We tend to think of the Heavenly Father as being above these strong emotions, remaining aloof in His heavenly house and waiting for us to get it right.
  • When we get confused by all of the talk about grace in the church, it is similarly because we just don’t see the justice in it.
  • The family of God isn’t held together by people getting what they deserve.  The family of God is held together by the joy of the lost being found.
  • The point isn’t to be right.  The point is to be joyful.
  • Most of us don’t mind working like a slave – as long as everyone knows about it and frequently expresses their appreciation.
  • Real joy comes not from being thanked, but from doing the thanking. 
  • The things that give us the most joy are always the things we didn’t earn.
  • They weren’t celebrating or honoring the prodigal at all.  They were celebrating because the lost has been found, and the family has been restored.
Pastor Jim Spon | Luke 15:25-30

February 28, 2016 - Back in His Arms - Luke 15:20-24

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:01 PM by Grant Garber

  • The Father is the one who is doing the searching.  And He is searching for us.

  • It is not the Father who is lost or hidden.  It is we who have the talent for hiding.  
  • With one hand, the Father holds us secure in the work of Jesus Christ.  With the other hand, the Father comforts us through the Holy Spirit, who conveys the Father’s love.
  • Anyone who understands this, who takes such grace to his or her own heart, finds the secret to joyful living.  Regardless of the circumstances of their lives, they just seem to get joy because they know about the love of God.
  • If you struggle to find joy, the place to begin is not with what you are holding, but who is holding you.
Pastor Jim Spon | Luke 15:20-24

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