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Sunday Recap for 02.17.19 Romans 2.1-4 – How Should We Talk to Non-Christians?

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Sunday, February 17, 2019, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Romans 2.1-4:

Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

From those verses, we pursued this Big Idea and these three points:

Big Idea:  How to Talk to a non-Christian

Don’t Pass Judgement

Know that God Judges

Trust God’s Kindness

Don’t Pass Judgment

Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Judging, from God’s perspective, is declaring someone’s guilt in light of His holiness.  Judging, from a human perspective, is declaring someone’s guilt despite their own guilt.  When the guilty condemn the guilty, that’s called judging.  Jesus explained how we should approach these things:

Luke 6:37-42 37″Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 41″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

How then should the Christian interact with the non-Christian?

Know that God Judges

2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

God has a basis for judgement:  truth.  That truth is a representation of His character and that truth is found in the Bible.  The Christian has to trust that God is going to make all things right in this world.  So, we can’t stand in judgment of others because we are sinners as well.

What then should we do?  Instead of standing in front of people judging them for the very things that we are guilty of, we should stand beside them, sharing our sins and the hope that we have found in Jesus through God’s word.

Trust God’s Kindness

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

When we judge, we show contempt on the way that God intends to bring people to repentance:  kindness.  We must be kind as a reflection of God’s kindness, and our kindness must have the same agenda of God’s:  leading people to repentance.

Big Idea:  How to Talk to a non-Christian

Don’t Pass Judgement

Know that God Judges

Trust God’s Kindness


Truth:  Speaking the truth in love, Christians are to call the world to the same repentance that they have experienced through God’s kindness. 

Application:  Live knowing that the kind and continual work of repentance in your life is intended to be transformative for you, the church, and those who do not profess faith in Christ.

Action:  Be kind to those who don’t know Christ with the expressed purpose of sharing how God’s kindness led you to repentance.    

Sunday Recap for 02.10.19 Romans 1.28-32 Big Picture Question: What Does It Mean to Acknowledge God?

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Sunday, February 10, 2019, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Romans 1:28-32:

Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

From those verses, we pursued this Big Idea:

Big Idea:  Acknowledge is Power aka What Happens When We Don’t Acknowledge God?

God Gives Us Up

We are Filled

We Give Approval

God Gives Us Up

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

God promises to hand over any who do not acknowledge Him to a debased mind.  A debased mind is the opposite of the original purpose that God had for the mind.  In light of this promising and warning, we should ask ourselves, “How can we acknowledge God?”  To answer that, I offer these 5 ways to acknowledge God.

5 Ways to Acknowledge God

We are Filled

29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Paul then lists sins that naturally flow from a debased mind.  Paul calls them “all manner of unrighteousness” and notes that instead of being filled by the Holy Spirit, they are full of envy, murder…”

We Give Approval

32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Part of the evidence that God has handed over those who do not acknowledge Him is that those people not only sin, but they give approval to those who practice them.  God says that those sins merit death, the promise of sin from the Garden of Eden.

Big Idea:  Acknowledge is Power aka What Happens When We Don’t Acknowledge God?

God Gives Us Up

We are Filled

We Give Approval

Truth:  Acknowledging God in every area and circumstance of your life enables you to most enjoy a Spirit-filled, God-approved life.

Application:  Live knowing that God intends to bless you through your personal and public acknowledgment of Him.

Action: 

Profess faith in Jesus Acts 16:31

Give God thanks for all things:  good and bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Recognize His sovereignty to command, prohibit, and allow what He will. Proverbs 16:1-4

Pursue knowing Him more intimately each day. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Acknowledge God before the world in word, deeds, and mission.  Matthew 5:14-16

Sunday Recap for 02.03.19 Romans 1:24-32 Big Picture Question: What Happens When God Gives Up?

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Sunday, February 3, 2019, Evident Grace Looked at Romans 1:24-31:

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen!

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

From those verses, we pursued this Big Picture Question:

The Wrath of God and Shame Part Two

Big Picture Question:  What happens when God’s gives up?

The Dishonor of God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

Dishonoring God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen!

The book of Romans teaches us a valuable lesson.  It talks about what happens when a person doesn’t thank God or doesn’t recognize that He is God.  Since these people are not giving God thanks for all He does, He allows them to live like He doesn’t exist.  And it gets bad. 

God cares about how we honor our bodies. Why does the Paul pick these examples?  I think for a couple of reasons.  First God care about how we honor our bodies.  He calls our bodies temples of the holy spirit. 

Use your best OT imagery here.  Think about how God would strike people down who misused the temple.  He handed the entire nation over to pagan countries for punishment when they misused the temple.  How your body is that temple. God cares about what you eat, how you sleep, and who you sleep with.  These are not light and trivial matters.  And this doesn’t just relate to the abuse of the body, it relates to the worship of the body as well.   That can happen from everything from sex outside of marriage to over idolizing a size or shape or speed.  Both are sins of selfishness, disregard of the body God has given you as well as the over exaltation of the body God has given you.

Now what we have here in these passages is a list of what God does when He pours out His wrath by removing the restraints of sin.  Never forget that.  God every day retrains sin.  Though it is hard to believe, people are not as bad as they could be.  Just imagine, if God removed His restraint on sin completely, every temptation would result in sin, but it doesn’t to God’s praise.

However, one aspect of His wrath is removing restraint and allowing people to pursue sin unabated thus storing up more wrath for the day to come. You see when you know that God exists and you continue to live sinfully, in fact even pursue idolatry, God removes restraint and gives you exactly what you want.  He hands you over to sin.Why does God do that?  Because it gives God glory to punish sin.  He shows His justice. He shows He is sovereign.  He shows He is God.  So, He hands people over to their sin because that is what they are worshiping anyway.  It is like God says, “Oh you want to worship the creature and the creation instead of the Creator.  Have at it.  I won’t stop you.”

Paul specifically mentions fornication, adultery, and the like by referencing lusts and the impurities of the heart.  One wonders why Paul mentions specifically sexual sin here.  He easily could have mentioned any other sin, and “impurities of the heart” cover all sin, but Paul mentions outward noticeable sins. Paul is saying that when sin goes from being hidden and secret to open and flaunted that is evidence of God removing restraints on sin. 

If you know someone who shakes their fist at God and openly relishes the unease of which they place you by bragging about their sin, they have been handed over and the restraint of sin is being removed.  What follows is a list of sins that God detests and to which He hands people over to. 

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

Whew what a list.  Some of the sins that God mentions here result when God removes His restraint and pours out His wrath.  We have homosexuality, coveting, malice, envy, murder, strife deceit, maliciousness, gossiping, slandering, hating God, insolence, proud, disobeying parents, foolishness, faithlessness, and on and on.Essentially there is no sin that God does not hand people over to.That also should be a pretty humbling list because somewhere in the midst of that list, you should all find yourself.

Now let me say a couple of things here before move on.

This passage is very clear and there is no amount of Greek translation work that can be done to make it say anything different.  I studied Greek in seminary just like the folks who twist this passage.  What is says is clear:  the passage is saying that homosexuality is a dishonorable passion, it is contrary to nature, the acts are shameless and merit penalty from God.

There is an entire theological library of work that tries to make this passage say something different than it does.  Many will say that this passage speaks of non-monogamous homosexual relationships, but that is quite a stretch no matter whether you read this passage in the Greek or the English.There is no context enough here or anywhere else in scripture that speaks to God condoning homosexual behavior as long as it is monogamous.   There is of course an entire theological and scientific library of work that speaks to homosexuality being genetic.

Well I’m neither a geneticist nor the son of a geneticist nor do I play on TV, or save a lot of my car insurance today, but I do know this.  Scripture says that we are born inheriting Adam’s nature of sin, so saying that we are born sinners is nothing new and not an excuse or a provision for sin.

Big Picture Question:  What happens when God’s gives up?

The Dishonor of God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

Truth:  The continual dishonoring of self and God leads to God giving a person over the due penalty of their sin.

Application:  Christians are called to live with a gracious thanks for God and to our neighbors because He rescued us from being handed over to our sin.

Action:  Seek with every person (Christian, non-Christian) to relate to them as a sinner in need of Jesus.

How Then Should We Understand Sexuality?

The pattern of sexuality to help guide us is the image of Jesus Christ and His bride the church.  That is the pattern by which we understand all sexuality.  Committed, sacrificial, love between a man and a woman from Ephesians 5. Jesus, the groom, laying down His life for His bride, the church. 

But some folks will say, “Love is love”

When we speak of issues like “love is love”, we turn love in an amorphic, undefined emotion, malleable for any circumstance.  But the Bible defines love, both in definition and direction.  It’s definition is sacrificial.  Its direction is either

How does the Bible describe love?

Agape – Godly, parental, spousal love

Eros – erotic love

Philos – brotherly, friendly, love

When we say “well I love this person.  I’m not hurting anybody so why do you care?”

To make our affections define who we are, we must admit that our emotions can deceive us.  For example, our anger can cause us to think wrongly of another person.  Jealousy can deceive us to think wrongly of a friend or even God.  Our emotions are not our defining direction.  Our faith in God is, and so we look to Him to define love. 

If our emotions are not directed and defined as He as directed and defined them, we ask should then?  Our faith in God and what He defines.  What we can’t do it, is redefine God’s definitions to meet our emotions. 

But some say, “I was born with these affections.  How can God call them wrong or condemn me?

We are all born in sin.  Each and every one of us.  There is no indication that we are mapped towards one sin or the other, but even if we were, that would excuse this sin or any other.  We should say, “I am born a sinner just as much as you are.  The danger is defining ourselves by something other than what God calls a good. The danger is defining our eros love in someway different than a pattern of Christ and His church.

Identifying Yourself by Your Sin changes your identity. 

All sin separates us from God.  The agenda for sexual acceptance in our country is not different than the acceptance for every other sin. 

The church lost the battleground of sexual sin in our culture when we are either hypocritical prudes or openly okay sexual sin in other areas. 

The Bible also says eating shellfish is wrong, so isn’t saying homosexuality is wrong out of date or out of place?

One argument has been, well yes, the OT says homosexuality is wrong but it also says you can’t shellfish. I know you dig some shrimp.  This argument is a misunderstanding of the law of God. 

There are three types of law in the OT:  civil, ceremonial, and moral.

Civil were the laws governing how Israel as a state should function.

Ceremonial were the laws regarding the sacrificial system.

And moral were the laws defining how we reflect the character of God in our day to day lives.

Hebrews makes it clear that both the civil and ceremonial laws were fulfilled by Christ but the moral law stands.  So, yes, you couldn’t’ eat shellfish because they would make you unclean and you couldn’t offer sacrifice for your sins if you were unclean.  But Christ has made us clean and nothing we eat will make us unclean.  So, enjoy your shrimp on the barbie.  But the laws regarding the direction of our sexuality is part of the moral law and that still stands. 

Why does the church get so enraged with homosexuality?

We see this sin as greater than ours. It challenges us sexually and most of us carry some manner of sexual shame in our lives.We fear appearing liberal.We just don’t know how to love people who are different than us.

What then do we do?

If we want to be the most Jesus like that we can, then we should befriend those of other sexual orientation without comprising our biblical convictions.  Jesus was numbered among the sinners, the prostitutes, and tax collectors. 

We are not Jesus.  We must love every person as, “You are a sinner in need of Jesus, just like I am.”

Sunday Recap for 01.27.19 Romans 1.18-23 – Why Does God Show His Wrath

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Sunday, January 27, 2019, Evident Grace looked at Roman s 1:18-23

Audio for this sermon can be found at: tinysa.com/sermon/127191832126696

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

From those verses, we pursued this Big Picture Question:

The Wrath of God and the End of Shame Part One

Big Picture Question:  Why Does God Show His Wrath?

We found these answers that question:

Ungodliness

Dishonoring God aka Lack of Thanks

Futile Thinking

Ungodliness

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

God has wrath against sin, and the way it is revealed to us its display against ungodliness and unrighteousness.  And Paul teaches us that one of the things that unrighteousness does is suppress the truth.  Sin is not just a single action, thought, or word.  It is suppressing the truth of who God is and what He has commanded. 

Dishonoring God aka Lack of Thanks

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,

These verses should hit us hard.  God makes Himself plainly known.  Creation itself reveals that there is a creator.  Just by viewing creation, all humanity sees that there is someone greater than ourselves.  We can create, but only out of created things.  Our hearts know this.  But when we don’t honor God and gives thanks for Him and His creation, we sin, and that sin merits God’s wrath. 

Futile Thinking

but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

As we continue in our lack of honor and thanks, we grow into futile thinking.  This is wrong thinking compounded until our thinking is foolish.  The end of that thinking is idolatry where we worship created things instead of the creator.  The end result of ungodliness, the suppression of the truth, and futile thinking is the worship of the creation apart from the creator.   

The Wrath of God and the End of Shame Part One

Big Picture Question:  Why Does God Show His Wrath?

Ungodliness

Dishonoring God aka Lack of Thanks

Futile Thinking

Truth:  God’s wrath is poured out on all ungodliness because unrighteousness leads to dishonoring, ungrateful hearts that grow more and more futile in their thinking.  

Application:  Live knowing that your one, true, and lasting hope is that Jesus lovingly suffered the wrath of God on your behalf, so you might be free and safe eternally.

Action:  Impact someone’s life this week by reminding them of their rescue from the wrath of God.

Sunday Recap for 01.06.18 Romans 1.1-17 – What is the Link Between Faith and the End of Shame?

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Sunday, January 6, 2019, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Romans 1.1-17:

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

From those verses, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question: What is the link between faith and the end of shame?

And we found these three points from that question:

Grace and Someone to Proclaim It
Mutual Encouragement
The Power of the Gospel

Grace and Someone to Proclaim It

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul introduces us to four people in this passage, and each is set apart for a specific purpose.

Paul is specifically set apart for the mission of proclaiming Jesus.
Jesus is specifically set apart as the one that would fulfill all the scriptures.
We have been specifically set apart by grace and the obedience of faith.
The church of Rome has been specifically set apart and called to be saints.

Paul intends to emphasize that God orchestrates and sets apart His intentions and work in the world. God is doing all this work on His own. He is setting apart an apostle, a Savior, a church in that day, and the church in this day. Having made his introductions, Paul says,

Mutual Encouragement

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

I read this passage, and I get so jealous. Paul is thanking the people of the church of Rome because their faith in Jesus is so great that people are talking about it all over the world. I would love a letter that said, “Evident Grace’s faith is proclaimed in all of Fredericksburg.”

The church in Rome was living out their faith which such boldness that it their Godly reputation was traveling across the world. And remember, there was not texting, no Facebook, no newspaper. These folks are getting it done for the kingdom to such an extent that by mere word of mouth alone, the world is hearing about it. How do they do it? Simple. Simple words of encouragement.

The Power of the Gospel

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 

The Gospel of Jesus is our one hope, our one power. It is the power of change and the power for us to walk out of shame. How do we tap into that power? Only by believing and having faith in what Jesus has done.

Big Picture Question: What is the link between faith and the end of shame?

Grace and Someone to Proclaim It
Mutual Encouragement
The Power of the Gospel

Truth: The power of the gospel of grace conquers sin and shame as the church mutually encourages each other.

Application: Live knowing that you are equipped with everything that is needed to conquer your shame.

Action: Impart a spiritual gift of encouragement to someone new this week.

Sunday Recap for 12.30.18 – A New Year

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Sunday, December 30, 2018, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Ephesians 4:17-24:

Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We used this quote to guide us in our sermon.

“To live a life of sustainable impact, you must take the long view and think in more permanent terms. This means valuing a commitment to long-term effort over short-term results and pausing as needed to take care of yourself so that you don’t burn out before you’ve had the chance to see your vision through.” Imperfect Courage

We pursued this Big Idea and points:

Big Idea: A Godly Approach to a New Year

The Old Way of Thinking
The New Way of Learning
A Season of Renewal

The Old Way of Thinking

Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Paul wants every Christian to protect themselves from slipping back into their old way of thinking – they way they thought before knowing Christ. The Christian doesn’t have a futile mind. We aren’t darkened in our understanding. We are not alienated form God. Our hearts are not hardened. As we approach the New Year, these are good things to protect our hearts from. We can’t give in to thinking and living as we once did.

The New Way of Learning

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

The new way of learning of the believer is that we must learn Christ. We learn Christ by putting off all the sins that once held us down. As we approach the New Year, we should recognize that we are now gifted to cast off all the sins of our old self and live in a new manner of life. This will lead to…

A Season of Renewal

23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This coming year can be a season of renewal. We aren’t hopeless or helpless.

Big Idea: A Godly Approach to a New Year

The Old Way of Thinking
The New Way of Learning
A Season of Renewal

Truth: God calls you to a continual and enabled life transformation that displays the work of Christ in your life.

Application: Live knowing that God’s desire in the new year is to transform you more and more into the likeness of Christ.

Action: Renew your mind in Christ this year. It’s not a resolution. It’s a commandment.

Evident Grace Sunday Recap for 12.23.18

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Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

We pursued this Big Idea and these three points:

Big Idea: The End of Shame

Shame is about power.
Shame is not hopeless.

Jesus conquers shame.

Shame is about power
Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria

Caesar Augustus was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. He took the throne over Rome by defeating Marc Antony in a bloody battle in 31BC. In the background of this story is the famous story of Antony and Cleopatra. Antony was part of the ruling triumvirate. However he became infatuated with Egypt’s queen Cleopatra. When Antony became more concerned with Cleopatra than well-being of Rome, Caesar Augustus moved in.

When he took the throne, he mellowed becoming less bloody. He passed a lot of moral laws and proclaimed that he had brought justice and peace to the whole world. He then declared his Father, Julius Caesar to be divine thus making himself the Son of God. Poets wrote songs declaring him the savior of the world. He once issued this gospel: “Divine Caesar Augustus, son of God, imperator of land and sea, the benefactor and savior of the whole world, has brought you peace”

Caesar was about exercising his power and controlling people. That is the fertile ground for shame. Psychologist, Dr. Robin Smith, spoke about the power of having power over someone. She said, “I will define who you are and then I’ll make you believe that’s your definition.”

So how do we define ourselves?

By power over us?
By ourselves?
By our creator? Our designer.

The only way to for 1 and 2 not to make a problem, even when trusting 3 is to trust and pursue the scriptures.

Shame is not hopeless

3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Both Mary and Joseph had received messages from God about the birth of Jesus. Mary in Luke and Josephs in Matthew. So, the census causing them to go to Bethlehem made sense b/c Micah 5:2 said that the savior would be born there. According to Matthew, Mary and Joseph were now married, but Matthew says that they did not consummate the marriage relationship until after Jesus birth, so she could still be called his “betrothed”. I think of Mary making that journey of 90 miles. Poor woman. Amy is on bedrest and getting up is a challenge some days. I can’t imagine riding on a donkey for 90 miles.

Retuning home is about confronting shame, especially because we return home or face family. But it was not hopeless for Mary and Joseph because they were ushering in the Savior of the world.

Jesus conquers shame

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The conception was miraculous; the delivery was the normal painful birth of any delivery Wrapped him in swaddling cloths, laid him in a manger b/c there was no place in the inn You wonder why they didn’t stay with relatives? Maybe b/c Mary was a sinner? The idea of inn was a two story building. Sort of like a beach house. The second floor was where the people stayed and the first was where the animals were kept. This is probably where they stayed. As we know, the manger was a feeding trough for animals. Can you imagine? I remember how paranoid we were with our first child about germs.

In the midst of that, Jesus conquered our shame.

2 Cor. 8:9 – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Jesus was born in a stable not a palace. He was laid in a manger not in cute crib or bassinette. This all spells poverty and deprivation. Allow Jesus to meet you in your most embarrassing and shame-filled moment.

Big Idea: The End of Shame

Shame is about power.
Shame is not hopeless.
Jesus conquers shame.


Truth: Shame wants you to think you are powerless. You are not. Jesus took your shame, and faith in Him conquers any shame that you or anyone else tries to put on you.
Application: Live knowing that Jesus defeated all your shame and wages war constantly and vigilantly to assure you of that fact.
Action: When you have shame-filled thoughts, write them out somewhere, maybe the notes on your phone. Then, erase them letter by letter thanking Jesus for His work on the cross.
I agree with our first commentator. He says, “We must imagine that God is using ordinary, dirty spaces as extraordinary sacred places for real evangelism.”

Sunday Recap for 120918

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Sunday, December 9, 2018 Evident Grace Fellowship looked at Luke 2:1-7

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

From those verses, we pursued this Big Idea:

Big Idea: The End of Shame

With that Big Idea, we looked at these three causes of shame:

Unkept Promises
Lack of Compassion
Humiliation

Cause of Shame: Unkept Promises
The End of Shame: God Keeps His Promises

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

In the midst of suffering from an unmerciful Caesar who demanded his subjects to declare, “Caesar is Lord”, Mary and Joseph trudged home to be counted. In the midst of this, God uses the actions of this dictator to bring about the fulfillment of His promises from Isaiah 9 that a savior would born in Bethlehem.

Unkept promises from loved one and people in authority cause shame. Our unkept promises cause shame. God keeping his breaks that cycle. As we approach God, God doesn’t need our promises because we will break them. God needs our brokenness and need.

Cause of Shame: Lack of Compassion
The End of Shame: A Sympathetic Savior

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

The humanity of Jesus is important. In fact, owning his humanity as much as His deity is essential to our salvation. I think we lose an appreciation for His humanity but His humanness is as important as His deity. But we know from the scriptures that he was born, he grew, he got thirsty, he got tired, he got hungry. We need Jesus to be human. We need the compassion of a Savior who knows our every hurt, our every broken place.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Gregory of Nazianzus, the theologian who helped us understand the Trinity better than any other said this, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”

When we feel we lack this compassionate presence, we despair.

“We believe the most terrifying and destructive feeling that a person can experience is psychological isolation. This is not the same as being alone. It is a feeling that one is locked out of the possibility of human connection and of being powerless to change the situation. In the extreme, psychological isolation can lead to a sense of hopelessness and desperation. People will do almost anything to escape this combination of condemned isolation and powerlessness.” Brene Brown

Cause of Shame: Humiliation
The End of Shame: A Man of Sorrows

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

No family or friends to take them in. Their child born in a stable. A scandalous reputation that they didn’t deserve. Homeless. Seemingly helpless. Your Savior endured this humiliation so that He may exalt you out of yours.

Big Idea: The End of Shame

Unkept Promises
Lack of Compassion
Humiliation

Truth: The lowly birth of Jesus is evidence that God keeps His promise to remove our shame.

Application: Live knowing that Jesus redeemed every discompassionate, humiliating, unkept promise that you have ever experienced.

Action: Ponder the end of your shame.

Evident Grace Reverse Advent Effort

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EG Family and the Surrounding Community,

This past Sunday, our deacons announced our December “Reverse Advent” effort.

As you will see in the attached image, we are collecting canned and dried goods to replenish the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank. Often, local food banks are drained post-Christmas because of the demand and the decreased giving post-holiday season. We want to help eliminate their upcoming need.

Our desire is to bring all the food collected to our December 23rd worship service, place food up front, and pray for the families who will receive it. The YMCA will then connect with the Food Bank for a pickup following our service.

If you can’t make the 23rd service, we will let you now where the YMCA would like for us to store it until then. We will let you know that information as soon as we know it.

What we would like prior to the 23rd is to know how many families are participating. If you plan on participating, could you simply email Amy Duncan at [email protected] to let her know? Don’t worry; if you forget to email her, we can still accept the donations on the 23rd, but we would like to know how many families are participating.

Thanks so much in advance for caring for and serving these families.

Pastor Gordon

Sunday Recap for 12.02.18 The End of Shame

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Sunday, December 2, 2018, Evident Grace looked at Isaiah 9:1-7:

Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy, they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

We used these verses to pursue our study of how Jesus’ advent means the end of shame. Understanding shame is so important.

“The less we understand shame and how it affects our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, the more power it exerts over our lives. However, if we can find the courage to talk about shame and the compassion to listen, we can change the way we live, love, parent, work, and build relationships.” Brene Brown

Big Idea the End of Shame

Contempt
Darkness
Peace

The context of our passage:

Isaiah 8:22 They will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

Contempt

Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Contempt is the disease of sin and shame. Contempt is what continues when we have ongoing shame that isn’t removed. This was the state of Israel and our state when shame remains.

Darkness

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy, they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder

The promise of the removal of shame comes in the form of the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus would lead the people out of the darkness. Instead of shame, there will be an increase of joy as the harvest. There will be an increase of gladness. The burden of oppressors will be removed and replaced with the light yoke of Jesus. Their war will come to an end, and it will be replaced with the government of Jesus whose reign will know no end.

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick. Brene Bown

Peace

And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Jesus will usher in a time of peace and will be our wonderful, non-shaming, counselor. His peace and government will know no end. And God is eager to do this on our behalf.

Big Idea the End of Shame

Contempt
Darkness
Peace

Truth: Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and our Prince of Peace. He alone can remove our contempt and shame. He alone gives us peace.

Application: Live knowing that there is hope for your shame, and it is found only in the person of Jesus.

Action: Jesus despises shame. He took yours for you. Pray that God would help you believe this. Pray that God protect you from adding to the shame that Jesus removed.

Practical verses to live this out.

Jesus 12:2 Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

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