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August 21, 2016 - Sacred – but Blemished - Exodus 28:36-38

posted Aug 25, 2016, 5:59 AM by Grant Garber

Are we guilty of sin in holy things?
  1. What about our repentance?
    • Sometimes our repentance is not real repentance at all; it is only remorse and fear. Sometimes we are sad and even in tears, not because we have done wrong, but because we have been found out or may yet be found out.
  2. What about our worship?
    • We come to worship sometimes and find our minds distracted by the interests and cares of the world, not the great solemn cares which demand to be brought into the presence of God.
  3. What about our prayers?
    • Our prayers are sometimes careless, inadequate and very often selfish.
  4. What about our service?
    • Isn’t it shameful that our service is at times unworthy and that we aren’t always eager, happy, and aware of the privilege of being allowed to do it?
  5. What about our giving?
    • Isn’t it amazing that some are miserable in their giving to God and bring, like the Hebrews whom Malachi condemned, a blemished sacrifice to the altar – less than they should and resentful at that?
Commitment – We cry, “Save us from our sin in the ‘holy things’!”

Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 28:36-38

August 14, 2016 - Jesus’ Double Vision - John 1:40-42

posted Aug 16, 2016, 8:05 AM by Grant Garber

  1. Who was the real Simon Peter?
    • Was Simon as his friends saw him?
    • Was Simon like he saw himself?
      • We see the faults plainly in others but not plainly in ourselves.
    • Who was the Simon Peter Christ saw?
      • Jesus saw Simon as he was, the real man then existing, and the Simon Peter He could make.
  2. Who is the real you?
    • Is it the person your friends see?
    • Is it the person you see yourself?
      • I doubt whether anybody really knows themselves until they see themselves in the white light of God.
    • Who is the real you?
      • It is an act of faith, but I believe that the real you and me is the self which Christ could make.
      • If we could only see ourselves as Christ sees us! If we could stand at His elbow and get that double vision; the men and women we are; the men and women we might be!
Could’st thou in vision see
Thyself the man God meant,
Thou never more could’st be
The man that art content.

                                    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pastor Jim Spon | John 1:40-42

August 7, 2016 - The Power to Forget - Genesis 41:51

posted Aug 16, 2016, 8:00 AM by Grant Garber

  1. The importance of….
    • Forgetting as a natural consequence of the passage of time and not the outcome of conscious effort.
    • The art of forgetting.
    • Lesson: In most of the experiences of our past there is something to remember and something to forget.
  2. Things I want you to forget.
    • Forget the tactless, awkward, silly things you’ve done.
    • Forget your sins.
    • Forget the hurtful things that have been done against you.
  3. How can you forget?
    • One cannot forget the fact. So I advise: Remember to forget!
Pastor Jim Spon | Genesis 41:51

July 31, 2016 - Can I Really Know God - II Timothy 1:12b

posted Aug 16, 2016, 7:57 AM by Grant Garber

Main Thought
The most daring thing the devout Christian ever says about his or her faith is “I know”. Not “I think”, “I hope”, “I trust”, “I venture”, or “I believe”, but “I know”.

How can you test at any time the reality of an experience?
  • Ask whether the testimony of one sense is confirmed by the others.
  • Inquire how many people had the experience and how dependable they are as reporters.
  • Inquire whether this experience fits into our knowledge of the world as a whole and whether it is confirmed by other sources of knowledge.
  1. The reporters must be sufficiently numerous.
  2. The reporters must be dependable witnesses.
  3. The reporters are consistent with one another.
Objections (And Our Answer):
  1. If God were there, He would be more obvious. Everybody would be aware of Him.
    • Different aspects of reality can only be known in their own way: physical things by sense perception, values – and God – by spiritual seeking.
  2. All this talk of religious experience and Christian faith is just “wishful thinking”. People of faith have invented a fiction-God who will always play the game our way.
    • That isn’t our God! God’s demands are often completely different than our wishes. He says to some of our desires – “You shall not”. He demands sacrifice from us.
Pastor Jim Spon | II Timothy 1:12b

July 24, 2016 - We Demonstrate Our Understanding of God by How We Treat Our Neighbors - Exodus 20:16-17

posted Jul 26, 2016, 10:34 AM by Grant Garber

  • We know about expediency. Like Pilate, we too, have learned to do what it takes to get where we are. 
  • We also know about competing ideologies. The dominant ideology of our day that can trump all others is the fulfillment of the individual.
  • The church believes that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. This isn’t truth in the form of religious laws and moralisms, which quickly digress into more ideology. Rather, it is truth as a person.
  • Jesus claimed that this truth has little to do with expediency for saving yourself or with ideological commitments that only divide us. But the truth has everything to do with the witness you make about your neighbor. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
  • The neighborhood of God is never established by similarity. It is only established when mercy is offered.
  • To avoid being merciful just because it isn’t expedient, or convenient, or because the person in need offends our ideology or morality, is to divide the neighborhood of God. It is to say he or she doesn’t belong. And that is to bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • When we say that God gives us grace, we aren’t saying God gives us what we want. Grace means that God gives us what we need. Sometimes what we need is freedom from the things we want. And that leads us to the last commandment: “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.”
  • There is no better way to lose your life than to keep measuring it by the standards of the neighbor.
  • The real problem with coveting is that it reduces those you envy to their possessions. But the person you envy is a living soul who needs mercy as much as you. And that person belongs to you, as a neighbor, by this common need.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 20:16-17 (NKJV)

July 17, 2016 - Honoring Limits - Exodus 20:14-15

posted Jul 26, 2016, 10:31 AM by Grant Garber

  • Freedom is only found in places with boundaries and limitations.
  • Jesus was always worried most of all about the heart, from where all evil is born.
  • None of us can sustain our pretensions to righteousness based on the law. According to Jesus, we’ve all broken these commandments.
  • The Gospel always comes to us with both compassion and conviction.
  • The spiritual landscape of Christianity is littered with churches that offer only half a gospel, which is really no gospel at all.
  • The law is actually a grace. Without that guide, we would never make it to true freedom.
  • It is in reaching for forbidden fruit that we lose the garden we had. And it is then that we realize the garden we had was paradise. Only now it is paradise lost.
  • We need to stop thinking about taking, and start thinking about receiving. The positive way to say, “You shall not commit adultery and steal,” is to find joy in what God is giving you.
  • If you start out on the quest for happiness, you’ll just keep consuming your whole life. And that next thing or person will always be the idol that vainly promises happiness, which is a way of stealing your soul from God.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 20:14-15

July 10, 2016 - Respecting Life - Exodus 20:12-13

posted Jul 26, 2016, 10:29 AM by Grant Garber

  • The fifth and sixth commandments call us to revere life -- - the lives of those around us, and our own life that has been shaped and molded by father and mother.
  • Unless you honor the home from which you have come, you will never be able to receive the home to which you are heading.
  • To honor means to give people due importance, respect, and to acknowledge the significance they have. To honor your parents means you realize that you didn’t spring forth out of nothing and that your life was shaped, for better or worse, by those who raised you.
  • To honor the past doesn’t mean you condone it. It means you see it for what it is, and realize God has used it all to shape your life.
  • To honor father and mother also means that we don’t make them more than they were. They were neither devils nor gods.
  • Taking a human life is the ultimate rebellion against the Creator for it assumes sovereignty over life and death, and robs from God His unique right to give and take it away.
  • For Jesus, righteousness is not a matter of what you avoid doing, but of what you do, and even think and feel.
  • We dare not savor our anger because that will inevitably manifest itself in gossip or other diminishing activities that tarnish the sacred image stamped on a human life.
“Resentment is like feeding yourself rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. It only hurts us.” Anne Lamott
  • We are most tempted to get lost in our anger at others when our own lives don’t turn out as we had hoped.
  • In a society that has lost the ability to receive life as it is, and therefore has lost the meaning of life, one of the most redemptive things a Christian can do is to know how to cherish the creativity of God that is embedded in life’s ordinary places.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 20:12-13

July 3, 2016 - Living With the Holy - Exodus 20:7-11

posted Jul 9, 2016, 6:13 AM by Grant Garber

  • The Ten Commandments are not only laws but also markers for the journey through the great wilderness called life. These markers can still lead anyone to freedom.
  • What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? What is more typical of us is not that we misuse the name of God, but that we no longer use it at all. To take God’s name in vain is to ignore His character as the Savior who is very involved.
  • Anytime you think you can find a little salvation in your own work, you are in grave danger. The danger is this: if you fail, or worse yet, if you succeed for a while, then you’re stuck with yourself for a god.
  • Ironically, to be frantic with busy-ness is a lazy thing. It avoids the hard work of calling upon the Lord’s name and looking for His involvement.
  • If, through all of life’s experiences, you are looking for the sign of God’s presence, then all of life becomes an opportunity to encounter the Holy One.
  • How do we see God’s presence in our lives? By remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy.
  • We don’t worship because we have to. We worship because we get to. This is our chance to see what is going on from heaven’s perspective.
  • Worship is our opportunity to see the glorious creativity of all of those ordinary days in-between.
Sabbath = “give it a rest”, “stop”, “cut it out”!
  • If you resist this created rhythm of your life, instead of joining God in saying, “It is good”, all you will ever seem to say is that it’s just not good enough.
  • In worship, we choose to enjoy and celebrate the goodness of God in the life we have.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 20:7-11

June 26, 2016 - Our Mysterious Deliverer (Ten Markers to Freedom Series) - Exodus 20:1-6

posted Jul 1, 2016, 7:26 AM by Grant Garber

  • The Ten Commandments provide signposts that help us find our way to freedom.
  • Like the novice sailor, we, too, have drifted off course and are in need of a guide to find our way home. These Commandments will show us the way.
  • The wilderness is where we are converted from a people on the run with only a vague idea of the Promised Land, to a people of faith who have learned to walk with God on any road. And that is the only way to be free.
  • Ours is a God who liberates and who will not tolerate anything less than freedom for us. He’ll never settle as easily as we do for secure misery.
  • Christians love the cross. We wear it around our necks, and we gather under it every Sunday. It is the symbol of our freedom.
  • That is also one of the reasons why Christians are baptized. It is as if to say – we, too, have passed through the waters and begun this journey with God.
  • Along the way, we discover that the road to freedom is frightening and filled with risk. We are tempted to find another god or idol that is more manageable. But every idol will only drag us back to slavery.
  • Freedom comes, not because we found something to help us cope with how it is. It comes when we have trusted God to lead us to how it can be.
  • Why does God want so much for you to be free? Because there is one thing you can only do in freedom. And that is to choose to love – to love God, the neighbor, the enemy, and even yourself.
  • If Christians could get to the place where we were known for our gracious love, then the whole world would get a glimpse of the Promised Land.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 20:1-6

June 19, 2016 - The Gideon Report

posted Jun 20, 2016, 7:34 AM by Grant Garber

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