Sunday Preview for September 3

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” – William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII Few things stifle the Church’s witness more than hypocrisy (which comes from the Greek word meaning “actor”).  Contradictions between what we believe and what we do present people with an excuse to give the gospel a deaf ear.  But before hypocrisy corrupts the Church’s witness, it first corrupts its fellowship.  This Sunday, we will read Galatians 2:11-14 to see how hypocrisy strikes, and how we can strike back against it.

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Sunday Summary – Unlikely Missionaries

Lessons in the Christian Life from Peter, Paul, and Richard Nixon The sermon for Sunday, August 27 was based Galatians 2:1-10.  You can listen to it here.  What follows is a quick summary of the passage, as well as a few thoughts not mentioned in the sermon: SUMMARY OF THE PASSAGE In Galatians 2:1-10, Paul the Apostle writes about his first extensive visit to Jerusalem following his conversion nearly two decades prior.  During the interval, Paul had established churches filled with Gentile converts in numerous cities.  Paul, the Gentile churches, and their practices all aroused suspicion from many Jewish Christians […]

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Sunday Preview for August 27

The United States is a diverse but divided nation.  The Church in the United States looks much the same – divided along lines of race, class, doctrine, and much smaller details.  How can we testify to the gospel’s power to reconcile and unite different peoples?   Christians feel passion for different aspects of discipleship.  Some love teaching and theology. Others are excited by prayer, evangelism, missions, music, liturgy, counseling, or care for the poor. How do you relate to people whose passion differs from yours?  How do you respond when your special interest or pressing need isn’t emphasized in your […]

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Spiritual Practices – On Phones and Prayers

It’s not easy to develop a rich prayer life that enables us to experience God’s presence.  Distractions abound, and both the devil and our sin frustrate our efforts.  Ironically, help may be right in your pocket. WHAT’S THE RIGHT WAY TO PRAY? God is much more concerned with whether we will pray than he is with when, where, and how we pray.  Still, those factors do matter.  James Smith writes that prayer must become a habit for us to be transformed by it.  When, where, and how are the stuff of habits. We don’t often associate “habit” with prayer in […]

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Sunday Summary – The Source of the Gospel

It’s easy to idolize religious traditions instead of using them to seek fellowship with the Living God.  Idolized traditions cause us to turn inward, but abundant life is found when Christians drink together from the source of the gospel. EXPLANATION OF THE PASSAGE The first two chapters of Galatians include a long defense by Paul of “his” gospel.  People from Jerusalem had come to Galatia and told the churches that Paul’s preaching was incomplete – that he had omitted many commandments and traditions out of fear that Gentiles would reject the “full” gospel.  They argued that, since Paul had never been with Jesus […]

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Spiritual Practices – Singing To One Another

“Address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:19-20) Notice something unusual in this passage?  Paul says that we should not only sing to Lord, but also to one another. Most of the Church’s singing takes place with a big group of people staring forward at a small group of people.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a very personal encounter.  The worship team may be out […]

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Spiritual Practices – Singing When You Don’t Mean It

  Do you only sing when you feel like it?  Chances are that if you wait to feel like singing before you sing, you won’t sing very much.  Singing occupies a special place in the Church’s list of spiritual practices.  It came into use quite early, and played a prominent role whenever God performed his mightiest acts of salvation.  Israel sang God’s praises by the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1).  Centuries later, Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn before leaving for the Mount of Olives, starting the chain of events that would lead to the cross (Matthew […]

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