In week one of our series on the Holy Spirit, we looked at who the Holy Spirit is. This week, we continue by asking the question: What does the Holy Spirit actually do in our lives? We’ll spend the next three weeks answering that question. But we begin by looking at the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration (to use the word the apostle Paul uses here). Guest preacher Tim Page helps us to see three dimensions of the Spirit’s regenerating work in our lives. Thanks for joining us!
When it comes to the Holy Spirit, few topics generate more questions, or more controversy. But this is arguably one of the most important and central components of the Christian life. So for the next four weeks, we are looking at the subject of the Holy Spirit. This week, we begin by looking at what Jesus himself had to say about who the Spirit is, and what the Spirit does.
Most of us don’t think we have a problem with money. In fact, most of us would rather not talk about it at all. But the fact that we would rather not talk about it is a potential indicator that we desperately need to talk about it. This passage in James helps us understand why money is so spiritually dangerous. But it also gives us a unique and counter-intuitive way to find freedom from materialism and a greater sense of coherence and stability in our lives.
Every human being longs for deep, meaningful community with other human beings. But we also know that anytime we get in community, it’s difficult. Unfortunately, this is often especially so in the church. In this passage, James actually addresses this reality head on by calling out the quarreling and fighting in the church. But he also offers us a far deeper diagnosis of where such community breakdown comes from, and the stunning solution that offers us all hope for the restoration of community.
One of the most challenging areas of our lives, and one of the most painful areas of our lives, is words. It’s challenging because we all have things we regret saying. It’s painful because there are things that have been said to us that have caused damage. Words have incredible impact for good, or harm, in our lives and in our world. Because of that, this is one of the areas of our lives most in need of healing. But how does that happen? This passage in James gives us a powerful answer.
One of the most basic thrusts of the gospel message is that we are not saved by our own works, but by the work of Jesus Christ for us on the cross. In other words, the gospel does not say, “God accepts you because you’re a good person.” The gospel says, “God loves and accepts you because Jesus was good on your behalf. You are loved and accepted because of his works, not your own.” This passage, however, seems to conflict with all of that! Is the Bible self-contradictory, as many assert? Or is it possible that we misunderstand what James is saying? Join us this week as we look more deeply at an issue that is essential to the heart of the gospel.
This passage is the first of a number of “tests” James offers to help us determine the authenticity of our faith in Jesus. James says that our relationship to the poor is one of the primary ways we are to follow Jesus. But he goes much farther than simply commanding Christians to care for the weak and the poor (although he certainly does that). James helps us to understand what needs to happen in our own hearts in order to make us people of true justice and mercy.
The book of James is about how to do life as a follower of Jesus. But following Jesus doesn’t fit into our typical religious categories. Christianity is famously a religion of grace. We are not saved by what we do, but what God has done for us. That means, on the one hand, that Christianity is not primarily a check list of do’s and don’ts. But on the other hand, that grace actually brings an even stronger call to obedience in our lives. How? Join us as we explore this passage.
The book of James is all about how to do life as a follower of Jesus. That makes it one of the most practical books in the Bible. That practicality shows up in the opening passage, which is all about how to get ready for suffering. James (and the whole Bible) is very realistic about life, and especially life as a Christ-follower. He says that if you become a Christian, you should expect your life to get harder in many ways. This passage helps us to get ready for the reality of suffering by giving us a vision for God’s purposes in the midst of it.
Tim Keller (best-selling author and pastor emeritus at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC) has called this psalm “the key to handling life.” In other words, no matter what you’re going through, no matter what you’re experiencing, no matter what you’re facing, this psalm gives you the resources you need to handle it. That’s an impressive claim, and this week, we take a look at how this psalm more than lives up to it.
Petition is a formal way of talking about asking God for our deepest needs. It’s the most basic of prayers, but it’s also fraught with challenges, the biggest one being our fear that God will not give us what we ask, or even worse, that he will ignore us. Many people have had their hearts broken or lost their faith in God precisely because of this. This psalm has much to teach us, not just about how to go about asking God for our needs, but the deeper heart dynamics that must be resolved if we’re truly going to find satisfaction for our desires.
Facing the truth about ourselves only takes us half way in the pursuit of a transformed life. It’s one thing to see what needs to change. It’s another thing to actually experience change. What will accomplish it? In this famous psalm, David talks about the “one thing” he was asking and seeking from God. What is it, and how does it change us? Join us for this week’s sermon in our ongoing series.
Personal transformation is a hot topic in our world. Books, conferences, life coaches, YouTube videos, and many other places offer us counsel on how to live a transformed life. This famous prayer shows us one of the most essential, but also perhaps the most repellant ingredients: repentance. Is it just beating yourself up and feeling bad about yourself, or is it something else, something deeper, and therefore more transformative than we suspect? This psalm gives us the answers.
Psalm 137 is one of the most shocking and controversial Psalms in the whole Bible. It ends with a dark line, “Blessed is the one who dashes your little ones against the rocks.” This Psalm invites us into the frightening emotion of wrath. We are often resistant to feeling wrath. But if we are willing to take the time to listen to this uncomfortable Psalm, we might find that wrath is not always a bad thing.
The Psalms give us a way of working through the various emotions and experiences of our lives that is utterly unique. This is especially true when it comes to our darker, more difficult emotions: fear, anger, guilt, shame, sorrow, grief, etc. Instead of stuffing and denying them (which many traditional and religious approaches advocate), or instead of dumping them and bowing down to them (which secular culture advocates), the psalms tells us: pray your feelings. This psalm is all about tears and sorrow, and if we follow its lead, we can find a way through the most painful experiences in life that leads us to a life of greater joy and fruitfulness.
Fear is one of the first emotions we feel. And it continues throughout our lives to be one of the most basic, primal, and consistent. What do we do with it? Prayer often begins in trouble, but inevitably leads us closer to God himself. But that doesn’t mean we no longer need to bring our troubles to God! On the contrary, the closer we grow to him, the more we can actually bring our greatest troubles to him. This week, we look at how the Psalms train us to bring our fears to God in prayer.
Many people have noticed that the “prayer book of the Bible” does not actually begin with a prayer. Psalm 1 is a meditation on meditation, and it shows us that we need a gateway or bridge to help us detox from our high-stimulus world and enter into prayer. Unless we spend time listening to God through his word before entering into prayer, we run the risk of projecting our “truth” onto God, rather than his Truth penetrating and transforming us. Join us this week as we continue our journey through Psalms: The School of Prayer.
Recent research overwhelmingly indicates that our world is becoming more religious, not less. Even though there are lower reported levels of formal religious participation in our country, human beings are just as spiritually thirsty as they’ve ever been. Spirituality is in vogue (witness the boom in interest in mindfulness meditation), and prayer is one of the main ways spiritual connection has been sought over the centuries. But in order to know what prayer is, and how to do it, you need a teacher. Psalms is the Bible’s Prayer Book. Over the next several weeks we will learn to pray using this ancient resource. This week we begin with some of the basics. Join us as we attend the School of Prayer!
Have you ever felt an emotional low after Easter? Have you ever wondered how we are supposed to live as Christians in a world that has not been finally freed from all sin and death? John addresses these questions in his first letter. He tells us that God has lovingly, and miraculously made us His children. So therefore, we ought not to act like children of the devil, rather we ought to live like children of God.
Of all the questions and objections to faith, perhaps the least common is the question of the resurrection. But it should be the biggest question! If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, none of the other questions matter. But if Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, it is the only question that truly matters. Especially because the resurrection gives us a hope for our lives and the world that nothing else can give us, and nothing else can take away. How? Join us as we conclude this series on “The Questions of God.”