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October 4, 2015 - God the Fire - Exodus 19:1-6, 16-19

posted Oct 6, 2015, 6:25 AM by Grant Garber

  • Since we are creatures, made in the image of God, we all yearn to find holiness.
  • The irony is that every time we do encounter the holy we try to domesticate it into something unholy that we can manage.
  • Holiness cannot fit in your pocket.
  • We don’t even hear God’s voice most of the time because it is drowned out by all the other voices around us.
  • We are not trying to make you comfortable with holiness.  We are trying to breathe life back into all of our souls.  The only way to do that is to come and take our place in holy worship – where we meet the consuming fire.
  • Part of what it means to stand in the presence of holiness is to finally, at last, not be in control of the agenda.  And that is the beginning of getting life back into your soul. 
  • It is only as we remember the past that we can see how to move to the future.  The light to our path, the lamp to our feet, shines from behind us.
  • Our deepest fear in worship is that we remember that we have not remembered.
  • The Gospel proclaims that holiness has climbed down to us because, in Christ, God was dying to forgive us our sin.
  • Holiness is now revealed not as thunder and lightning on a mountain top but as acts of mercy.  And as it was revealed in the incarnation, so it is revealed when Christ is incarnated in our acts of mercy.
  • What has changed from the old to the new covenant is not God, but you.  In Christ, you are forgiven and restored and loved and freed finally to be merciful.
Pastor Jim Spon | Exodus 19:1-6, 16-19

September 27, 2015 - Being a Friend - I Samuel 17:55 – 18:3

posted Sep 28, 2015, 12:15 PM by Grant Garber

  • We are all looking for a friend.
  • We know more about the longing for friendships than the experience of it.
  • The real reason we don’t have friends is we don’t know how to receive them.
  • We don’t actually “make” friends.  We “receive” them as a grace from God.
  • Saul wanted desperately to absorb David.  That is how many of us approach friendships and what makes us actually repel them.
  • The best friends don’t need to have friends – but they choose to.  That’s because the secret to having friends is to first be self-sufficient before God.  Only then are you free to give love to another.
  • Friendship is one of the most underrated means of exercising spirituality.
  • We are yearning not just for a friend but for a fuller understanding of the love of God. 
  • In every friendship there comes a day for saying good-bye.  Friendships, like all of God’s gifts, have to be held with open hands.
Pastor Jim Spon | I Samuel 17:55 – 18:3

September 20, 2015 - Making Prayer a Priority - Psalm 19:14

posted Sep 23, 2015, 8:32 AM by Grant Garber

  • In every area, in the life of a believer, Prayer is foundational . It is essential in the aim and purpose, to reflect the Character of Christ, and to bring God Glory!
  • Expect opposition to making Prayer a Priority. We are fighting a Spiritual battle.
  • Prayer is commanded. Therefore, PRAYERLESSNESS in the life of a believer is a sin.
  • A commitment to put God first in Prayer, MUST be a Priority, NOT an Option
  • Prayer is a Personal Privilege, Jesus died to give us.
Pattern for Prayer
Power of Prayer
Purpose of Prayer

Jesus taught his disciples to Pray: (The Lord’s Prayer” Matthew 6:9-13)

September 13, 2015 - Change - Romans 12:1-2

posted Sep 14, 2015, 7:45 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Sep 23, 2015, 8:20 AM ]

  • We would all love to make a few changes in life.
  • Most of us have learned that it is mythological thinking to assume another product has the ability to change our lives substantively.
  • We live in an age and a part of the world in which people have so much freedom and yet our greatest fear is that we are stuck with ourselves.  We don’t know how to make change, and we aren’t even sure we can.
  • The payoff in claiming you’re a victim is that you always get to put your own problems first.
  • The Gospel claims you don’t have to settle in life.  Because God doesn’t.
  • God wants to unsettle and overturn the tyranny of trying to conform to some cherished image we have of ourselves.  The only change God is asking you to make is to sacrifice the despairing idea that it is up to you to get life just right. 
  • If it is change you want, then sacrifice all of that conformity so you can be transformed by God.  We have to become who we are. 
  • You will never be able to experience changes in your life, until you change and re-think your image of God.  The image of God will determine the image of self. 
“All wisdom begins with the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self.”
~ John Calvin

Pastor Jim Spon | Romans 12:1-2

September 6, 2015 - Paul’s Example of ChristIan Planning - Romans 15:19b-33

posted Sep 8, 2015, 7:19 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Sep 8, 2015, 7:20 AM ]

How do we keep First BaptIst Church of Richmond a viable, thriving beacon of God’s light in an ever-changing world?

Five keys:
  • God’s Providence
  • Paul’s Planning
  • Setting PrioritIes
  • Primary Importance of Prayer
  • God’s Perfect Will
Pastor Jim Spon | Romans 15:19b-33

August 30, 2015 - Faith In Spite Of - Mark 14:32-36

posted Aug 31, 2015, 6:18 AM by Grant Garber

  • Like God’s “Yes”, the only purpose of His “No” is to further the construction of our souls.
  • Mostly what “No” makes available to us is the grace of God, which shapes our lives.  “Yes” is a grace.  So is “No”.  No just makes it clear that grace is all there is.
  • When you face these hardest moments in life, you don’t want to be alone.  You call on your friends to pray.  But it doesn’t matter how many friends you have, on the nights when you are up all night, wrestling with a decision, you know this is now between you and God.
  • Your soul is shaped not by receiving the things you want, and not by avoiding the things you don’t want.  Your soul is shaped by the hands of a Savior who finds you at the cross and raises you to a new life that far exceeds your expectations.
  • Victims assume they don’t have choices and, as Jesus illustrates, you can always choose your response, even to God’s “No”.
Two kinds of faith
Faith because...
Faith in spite of...
  • It is after hearing God’s “No” that we lose our instrumental use for God.  Then we face the question, “Will I still love God even when that love comes without the blessings?”
Pastor Jim Spon | Mark 14:32-36

August 23, 2015 - Irreconcilable Differences - Acts 15:36-41

posted Aug 24, 2015, 2:38 PM by Grant Garber

  • The Bible doesn’t claim that Christians should avoid conflicts, and it doesn’t even tell us much about how to resolve them.  What it does tell us is how to live with conflict.
  • The early church was quite accustomed to conflict.  This spat between Paul and Barnabas was no big deal.  The big deal was fulfilling their mission of talking about Jesus.
  • The mission, the purpose of your life and mine is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  If you find that all of your energy and joy is being sucked away by your conflicts, you are missing the point of your life.  
  • God’s will is about God’s choices.  And God will use our choices, even the conflicted ones, to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ with us.
  • There is a unity that comes not from consensus, and not even from the will of the majority, but from the common salvation we all have in Jesus Christ.
  • Christ’s church can be defined only at the center, where He alone is found, and that center is strong enough to hold the church together.  
  • Our unity isn’t found in agreement.  Not even in agreement about extremely important moral or justice issues.  Our only source of unity is the grace of Jesus Christ – to which we all cling for our only hope. 
  • God is using even this “troubled sea” to lead us, and those with whom we are conflicted.  And this is God’s mission.  
  • Since we believe God’s will ultimately prevails, we are free…. 
    • To develop humbly the most thoughtful position we can in a debate. 
    • From having to prevail ourselves when our position conflicts with the beliefs of other thoughtful Christians.
    • To commend those with whom we disagree to the grace of God, and return to our mission of knowing and enjoying God.
Pastor Jim Spon | Acts 15:36-41

August 16, 2015 - A City of Refuge - Numbers 35:9-15

posted Aug 24, 2015, 2:35 PM by Grant Garber

  • We live in a culture that is pretty hard on those making mistakes.
  • When we experience these overwhelming losses and great mistakes, we may grieve for a short while.  But typically, way too soon, we decide that we have to get going again.  What we mean by “get going” isn’t to get help and find healing, but to get away from the pain and hurt.  
  • This is when the running starts, and once we start, we just keep running.  If you’ve been on the run for a while, you know how much it depletes your soul.  And you understand about tired.
  • The church of Jesus Christ has inherited this calling of being a City of Refuge.  It is a place where you can come when you have made mistakes, where the only ticket to get inside is the need for grace.  And best of all, it is a place where you can finally stop running.
  • No mistake is as great as hiding behind the expectations others have of you, or of confusing carefulness for cowardliness and the refusal to take risks.
  • Some of us run because we are fleeing our past, and others of us run because we have to hustle just to meet the demands of being good.
  • On Sundays after you have run into the City of Refuge, we do the unforgivable thing here of slowing you down.  All of our worship is designed to create an atmosphere in which your tired soul can at last rest in God. 
  • None of us are here because we’ve got it all figured out.  We are all searching for the same thing – a little grace.  And in that discovery, the blessed City of Refuge, the church, is formed.
  • The church isn’t a Hole in the Wall gang of fugitives, but a community of people set free.  
  • Only those who have experienced such grace know how to be gracious to those we meet in the course of our days who are still running for their lives.  And there you find your mission.
Pastor Jim Spon | Numbers 35:9-15

August 9, 2015 - Living Well and Dying Nobly - Genesis 5:1-32

posted Aug 24, 2015, 2:32 PM by Grant Garber

Main Thought
It is important to remember that humankind has been given only two things to master:  “how to live” and “how to die”.
  1. Coming to grips with life.
    • Life lived in the image of God is drastically different from life lived in the likeness of sinful man.
    • Adam hid from God, Cain went from the presence of God, but Enoch walked with God.  That is the ultimate human compliment.
  2. Coming to grips with death.
    • Death in the abstract no longer moves us and we like to keep it that way.  But death is not abstract.  Paul tells us that “death came to all men”, and he attributes this to Adam’s wrongdoing.
  3. Coming to grips with life after death.
    • Life after death for some will mean glory and for others judgment.
    • Only those who view death rightly can hope to live properly.
Pastor Jim Spon | Genesis 5:1-32

August 2, 2015 - A Mighty Wind - Acts 2:1-6

posted Aug 24, 2015, 2:28 PM by Grant Garber

  • The Holy Spirit is a mighty wind that moves across the dark chaos that settles in, pushes it aside, and creates life in its place.
  • When the winds of change sweep through your family, your life, our community, do you know what it means?  Do you realize that this may be the Spirit of God who insists on leading you to a new life?
  • Like the first disciples who nestled together in their familiar upper room, we, too, look for places of sanctuary.
  • At Pentecost, as the disciples were hiding in their safe upper room; the wind rushed down upon them and blew them out of their sanctuary into the waiting world. 
  • Sanctuaries are good places.  But whenever we use our safe place to resist change, the sanctuary becomes a tomb.  Expect Jesus to send His Spirit to breathe life back into you by pushing you to a new place where you can only live by faith, which is the only way to be fully alive.
  • The war dead tell us that no one gets to keep their freedom by playing it safe.  They also tell us that we must accept the gift they were dying to give us and to live our lives, to grab hold of the wild mystery of life, and to be free of the tombs. 
  • What Pentecost tells us is that the Holy Spirit will push you into this life.  The wind forces all of the disciples of Christ out of their safe places in order to follow the risen Savior who is at work in the world.  For where He is, there is our life and our freedom.
Pastor Jim Spon | Acts 2:1-6

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