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Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church


Welcome to Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church! We'd love to worship with you. Check out this podcast for weekly sermon series, devotionals, and book reviews.

Our 175-year history reminds us that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. We who are part of this historic congregation today are indebted in countless ways to the faith of those who have gone before us. As recipients of this godly heritage and stewards of the gospel, we tirelessly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ so that the generations that come after us will experience the joy of knowing, loving, and serving
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Praying the Kingdom

Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian ChurchNov 09, 2021

This World Is Not My Home

This World Is Not My Home

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t be so earthly-minded that you’re no heavenly good?” How about the reverse? “Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good?” Or, have you ever heard people use phrases like, “This world is not my home; I’m just passing through” or, “Be in the world, not of the world?”
The reality is that Christians are described in a number of ways and instructed to live in a number of ways. We are to live differently from the world, yet we are also called to be salt and light amongst the world. We look forward to the kingdom that is coming, but we are also called to grow God’s kingdom here on earth. We are called forgiven sinners, adopted sons and daughters, and beloved members of the body of Christ. All of these are key aspects of who we are in Christ.
But according to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, one of our most important identities is as “sent people.” Just as Jesus was sent into the world to show God’s love, He now sends us to do the same. Jesus often spoke of heaven, but He also spoke of God’s kingdom in our world. The mission He entrusted to His followers was not about pining for heaven but about making disciples and growing God’s kingdom.
So how are we to live? As a sent people! In John 17:18, Jesus said, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” The good news is that He prays for us as Jesus sends us into the world! We don’t go alone!

Sep 25, 202345:11
Just Be True To Yourself

Just Be True To Yourself

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” -Colossians 3:9-10 I just love when you put fresh sheets or a new set of sheets on the bed. There is something about having everything be tight and tidy as you put your feet in for the first time. There’s also the fresh smell. And for some of us, perhaps there’s the sense that “I should really do this more often.” That sense of looking and feeling new is exactly what this verse is talking about. It starts in a rather ordinary way. “Don’t lie to one another.” That’s plain enough. We taught this to our children when they said, “I didn’t do it,” but it’s clear they did when chocolate was on their mouths and the cookie jar lid was halfway off. We know it’s wrong to lie, but we do it anyway. But look closer at why we’re not supposed to lie to one another. It’s because we’ve “put off the old self” and “put on the new self.” In Christ, we’ve got a new look; we’re new people. We’ve got fresh sheets, and we get to start all over. What’s the key? Is it just being true to our old selves? Is it just wearing our old clothes? Is it just sleeping in the same sheets forever? No, we are told that the most important thing is to be “renewed” in the “image of our Creator.” As we grow to know him better, we become more and more like our truest self, the person we were always meant to be, fresh and clean.

Sep 18, 202344:36
God Loves You Just The Way You Are

God Loves You Just The Way You Are

How many of us have ever been in a discussion where we have heard someone say something along the lines of, “Sure, I'm not perfect, but God loves and accepts me just the way I am”? Or, “God will never love you less than He does right now”? Ironically, variations of those themes might be something we have shared with others as a form of comfort.
Taken at face value, they are true statements. John 3:16 and 1 John 4:7-12 remind us, “God so loved us,” and “God is love.” Of course, if that were the whole story, that would fall drastically short. If we were to read the rest of the verses, we’d find that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Or “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
If all we do is take the first part of those verses, all we hear is, "Because God is love, He loves us just the way we are.” However, in doing so, we miss the second part, which is equally as important (if not moreso). God’s love extends to us as sinners in need of a Savior. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). That is true love!
For any of us (or anyone we know) who is like the Prodigal son, all of our running and rejecting doesn’t stop our Father from loving us. When we come to our senses and come back, our loving Father is scanning the horizon and running to us. Why? Because God loves us!

Sep 11, 202341:03
Pursue Wise Counsel

Pursue Wise Counsel

Have you ever experienced analysis paralysis? I usually find myself in this situation when I play a board game, especially when facing a tough opponent who will exploit any mistake I make. Out of a well-intentioned desire to avoid committing blunders of colossal proportions, I attempt to consider any possible outcome of every possible move I could make. However, this usually means that I overanalyze the situation and take too long to complete my turn.

Most of us, at one time or another, have probably felt overwhelmed by decisions we need to make or by challenging situations that we face in our lives. In those moments--especially when there is more at stake than just winning or losing a board game--we can feel tremendous pressure to succeed...or at least to avoid making a total mess of the situation. This is probably how King Solomon felt when he succeeded his father, David, as king of Israel. Yet, as Scripture tells us, God met Solomon in his time of need and provided him abundantly more than he asked for or imagined.

I invite you to read 1 Kings 3:1-15. In what areas have you, like Solomon, perceived a need for greater wisdom? How might God grant you the wisdom and strength to handle difficult situations faithfully?

We serve a generous God who delights in wisdom and is eager to lead us to greater depths of wisdom and delight as we follow Him. Even when we feel stuck by decisions or challenges in front of us, He stands ready to guide us and walk with us as we take each new step of faith.

Sep 05, 202340:33
Wisdom That Is Not Our Own

Wisdom That Is Not Our Own

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.”  John 7:16
Over the years, I have experimented with different kinds of diets. The most recent one was Keto. The idea is that you cut out all sugar and carbs, making your body burn fat instead of storing it.
This diet (and others like it) has been endorsed by a number of celebrities, bloggers, and social media influencers who have found success losing weight or improving their athletic performance. And initially, when I tried the diet, I also found success. However, I developed a known side-effect - an irregular heartbeat.
Now, since I already have an occasionally irregular heartbeat, I thought it might just be that, so I stopped the diet. What happened? The irregular heartbeat stopped. In fact, a few months later, I tried the diet again just to be sure, and the same thing happened. Lesson learned? As much as it was working, it wasn’t for me.
Sometimes, we are tempted to treat Jesus’ voice like just another voice in the world advising us about options for our diet, finances, or productivity. But in this passage in John 7, we are reminded that Jesus actually speaks for God because his teaching is from God. That means that Jesus’ instructions are not something we can pick and choose from. Every instruction He gave aligns with how you and I were created to live. If we want to experience life as it was meant to be lived, we will find it by listening to Jesus and doing what He asks us to do.
I hope we will see both why we need a wisdom that is not our own and where that wisdom comes from. So, if you have been (or are) stuck in the decision-making process, I look forward to exploring this with you.

Aug 28, 202339:19
Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

The more we grow in our faith, the more we can expect to encounter obstacles along the way. At times, we may even face major barriers that threaten to block our spiritual progress and cause us to feel stuck in difficult or frustrating situations. This Sunday, we will spend the second week of our new sermon series looking at a time where being stuck was both a present and a potential reality. As we open up God's Word together, we shall encounter a barrier-breaking God whose heart for His people propels Him to dislodge the obstacles in our hearts and lives that keep us away from Him.
I encourage you to read Acts 8:26-40. How do you see the Lord leading Philip and the Ethiopian official in this passage? How do each of them respond to the Lord with faith and obedience? What can this passage teach us about following Jesus today? How will you pray for the Lord to break through a specific barrier, and how can you align your actions and attitudes accordingly?

Aug 21, 202341:19
Attune Your Heart To God

Attune Your Heart To God

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve gotten stuck when it comes to making decisions? For some of us we’re so ready to plow ahead that we never bother to ask God for direction. For others, we are so desperate in our desire to please God that we are afraid the decisions we are making might not be in His will. For others, we have felt the crash and burn after a poor decision. In every case, these things keep us from being able to make decisions and move forward.
We live in a world that is seeking to have us make decisions based on self-fulfillment, pleasing others, and what is socially acceptable. (How’s that working out for us?!) Instead, the purpose of this new series called “Stuck” is to help us get unstuck by showing us that the best way to make wise decisions is to base it on a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, through Scripture, and through relationships with otherwise, Godly people. But how do we do that if the decision isn’t black and white or even answered specifically in Scripture?
The key is wisdom! While some decisions are simple, everyday ones with little impact on our lives, other decisions are more important. Where do we turn to help us make wise decisions? How do we tune ourselves to the heart of God?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). This is a great lens by which we can begin this discussion and will influence where we go.

Aug 14, 202339:15
The Greater Blessing

The Greater Blessing

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  Hebrews 13:20-21

When we conclude our worship services, we offer a benediction (word of blessing) and a sending greeting. We do not simply say, “Have a nice week.” We go from our service of worship to our everyday life of worship. In order to do that, we need God’s blessing and equipping.

What a powerful way to wrap up the book of Hebrews! In giving God’s blessing, the writer of Hebrews is also sending us out with a reminder of who is going with us.

The writer summarizes almost the entire sermon in these two short verses (though a run-on sentence for sure). “The God of peace…” (not a God of wrath and anger). “Through the blood of the eternal covenant…”(not a covenant that is passing and in need of a new one; it is eternal). “Brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus…” (death could not hold any ­power over the Son of God). His sacrifice was once and for all. This is the God who is sending us and equipping us.

We do not do the good that we do on our own. We need God’s help and His equipping so that what we do is pleasing to Him. We need God to equip us with “everything good for doing his will.”

By God’s grace, we do everything for God’s glory forever and ever.

Aug 07, 202346:03
A Greater Way To Live

A Greater Way To Live

It’s hard to believe that we are quickly coming to the end of our study of Hebrews; what we started back in February will now be finishing in August. While we have spent 24 weeks on it (so far), the reality is that we could spend many, many more. In fact, as we turn our attention to Hebrews 13 this week, the reality is that we could easily break this up into four or five more Sundays. 

The reason for this is because the author turns his attention from deep theology to practical living, and in these verses, we see example after example of how what we believe should be reflected in how we behave: 

  • It should lead to loving one another. 

  • It should lead to greater levels of hospitality.

  • It should lead to an outpouring of care and concern for those who are in prison.

  • It should lead to a greater sexual purity. It should lead to a greater level of contentment and not having a love for money.

  • It should lead to greater respect for our church leaders.

  • It should lead to a strengthened faith that can discern truth from error.

  • It should lead to greater perseverance in our faith.

  • It should lead to greater praise.

  • It should lead to greater prayer.

But, alas, since we won’t be doing that, we’ll bundle them together under the umbrella of a greater way to live. Perhaps verses 15-16 sum it up best: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” May these words come alive in our hearts and church this week!

Jul 31, 202346:34
The Greater Mountain

The Greater Mountain

In the Old Testament, it was not unusual for people to be terrified and in awe of God’s presence. For example, in Exodus 20:18-19 it says, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” The people were afraid because they knew they were sinful and God is holy and awesome, with power beyond imagining.

The book of Hebrews reminds us that the old covenant was built on the law, on following rules, and on fear. However, since God has established a new and eternal covenant of grace with us in Jesus Christ, we can confidently approach God's throne. As we near the end of Hebrews and study Hebrews 12, we are once again shown the difference between law and grace. We are reminded where we are running and what the destination is - not Sinai, but Zion! Not trembling, but joy! Not death, but life!

Hebrews 12:22-23 says, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” Because of Jesus Christ, we have been given access to God in a way never thought possible during the time of Moses. May each of us run with joy towards that final destination, knowing that we are finishing our race well!

Jul 24, 202341:19
The Pursuit Of Peace & Holiness

The Pursuit Of Peace & Holiness

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy…”  - Hebrews 12:14

As Kreuger says, a common reaction to the discipline we learned about last week is to give up - to stop running the race. In a long race, sometimes you’ll notice that a runner's gait has flattened. Instead of feet that form a more rounded elliptical motion, their feet fall closer to an oval shuffle. Other times you’ll notice as they start to tire that their arms drop. 

We might not think anything of it, but these things are signs of fatigue. It’s said that the position and motion of the arms are extremely important in running in order to maintain proper body coordination and rhythm. Your arms actually help you pull through your stride, and so they are the first parts of the body to show weariness.

This is no different in the Christian walk. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we get weary. Sometimes we get tired and weary of each other. This is why the pursuit of personal holiness is hard work, and which is why we need to be strengthened daily. The temptation is always there to trade the spiritual things for the earthly things, but if we do so, we will end up sharing in the tears of Esau. A lack of holiness leads to sin that separates us from God & one another, and makes us poor witnesses and a stumbling block to others.

This means that the call to the pursuit of peace and holiness is also a call to commitment. People who are at peace with God are responsible to pursue peace in their relationships with others. When we do so by loving others and seeking peace, others will see a reflection of God’s glory. May we be a people who live in His peace and put aside bitterness and hate.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Aaron

Jul 18, 202345:39
The Greatness Of Discipline

The Greatness Of Discipline

“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” - Hebrews 12:10 I can remember times when our children were young when we had to steer them away from disaster. Our first house (parsonage) was on a busy 4-lane road with dangerous traffic, and when they played in the yard or rode their bikes, we had to give them strict instructions about where they needed to stop. Most of the time, they listened well and paid attention; but sometimes, they did not. In those moments, we sprung into action to save them from harm. In the following moments, things were said, assurances made, and punishments administered. Perhaps there were even times when what I said sounded severe, even if I was not angry or vindictive. In the end, the prayer is that our children would understand that we were trying to protect them and they would grow into wise young men and women. It is hard to be disciplined, even when we know we deserve it. Discipline is embarrassing and humiliating. None of us like to admit wrong—even when we know we are. But discipline is intended to make us better people. Parents discipline children; employers exert discipline on employees; coaches require discipline to win; and God demands discipline to shape people into his disciples. Our verse says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” It is not fun to be set in the corner, sent to the principal’s office, put in jail, reprimanded by a superior at work, scolded by the coach, or, most of all, chastised by God. The Bible is right: discipline is painful. But, thanks be to God, discipline also brings righteousness and peace. It makes us seek the Savior, Jesus. May we seek that Savior as we gather together for worship this week.

Jul 17, 202344:20
Running With Endurance

Running With Endurance

Dear Presby Family,

After last week's survey of the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith, this Sunday we will look at the well-known opening verses of Hebrews 12. How should the lives of past heroes of the faith inform our lives today? According to the author of Hebrews, their examples can motivate us to persevere as we run the race of faith. To run this race well, we need to cast off the things that slow us down and fix our eyes on Jesus. Because He has triumphed in His race, He gives us strength to endure as we follow in His ways.

I invite you to read Hebrews 12:1-3 and reflect on these verses. When you think of the "great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before you, who comes to your mind as someone God has used to encourage you in your faith? How would you describe the race God has called you to run? What might you need to cast off in order to persevere in the race? Ask Jesus to help you fix your eyes upon Him as you keep running the race He has marked out for you.

Pastor Andrew

Jul 03, 202347:21
Jesus Christ: Our Better Hope

Jesus Christ: Our Better Hope

Last week in Hebrews chapter 10, we learned the importance of encouraging one another to persevere and hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering and with confidence. Near the end of chapter 10, the author of Hebrews quotes Habakkuk, saying, “my righteous one will live by faith.” This week we will be considering what it means to live by faith.

Hebrews chapter 11 has been called the “Hall of Faith” and “God’s Hall of Fame.” We read about numerous people from the Old Testament, most of whom we are familiar with, who are commended for living by their faith. But this chapter is about the object of our faith and what we do because of our faith. It shows us what it looks like to trust in God.

You’ve probably heard someone say that what is important isn’t so much how much faith you have as it is who or what you’re placing your trust in. The people presented in Hebrews 11 trusted, or hoped, in God, even though they were experiencing all kinds of struggles and trials.

I encourage you to read Hebrews chapter 11. Ask God to show you the characteristics and actions that are being commended in these people. You may want to return to the Old Testament to read more about their lives. Ask God to help you assess your faith in Him and in His Word.

What might be said about you? By faith . . .

Jun 26, 202339:18
Greater In Order To Persevere

Greater In Order To Persevere

Hebrews 10:19-39 is a section of scripture filled with numerous twists and turns, so much so that you wonder where to place the focus. Should it be the familiar verses of 19-25? Should it be the call to live differently now that we know who Christ is in verses 26-31? Or should it be the call to persevere in verses 32-39? On the one hand, we could take each section on its own and extend our sermon series out even further. On the other hand, we could take them all together and connect them to the cleansing work of Jesus’ blood that we learned about last week.

What happens when believers gather together in worship and “draw near to God?” We hear the call to live differently, to turn from our sins, and to persevere. This is why worshiping together is so important and why we should encourage each other by doing it regularly.

Assurance leads to perseverance. Since we know that Christ is the victor over all that is wrong with the world, we can boldly follow His invitation to follow him. That same assurance also leads us to persevere when we face hardship or temptation, lean on others when we do, and still find joy in the midst of difficulty. 

Again, this is why we need one another. This is why Christians aren’t meant to live in isolation. We need one another for encouragement. We need one another for perseverance. We need one another to help us run from the sin that so easily entangles us. And we need one another to remind us of the assurance we have in Jesus Christ. May God grant us strength to press into these things this week and to not shrink back. Why? Because we have faith and a blessed assurance in Christ.

Jun 19, 202343:30
Christ Is The Better Sacrifice

Christ Is The Better Sacrifice

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” - Hebrews 10:10

The Bible tells us that Jesus drew his final breath at three o’clock in the afternoon (Luke 23:44-46). While this may not seem significant to us, it would have been an important time in Jerusalem. Why? Because it was the time of the afternoon sacrifice. AND because it was during Passover week, Passover lambs would have been sacrificed at the Temple at that time.

It was customary also for the priest to blow a shofar at the time of the sacrifice, which was a ram’s horn. So picture that scene: Around the same time that Jesus took his last breath, the shofar could be heard. At the sound of the horn, people would stop what they were doing and fall silent for a few moments. And in that time of silence, Jesus died.

As the Passover lambs were sacrificed in the Temple, the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the cross. In God’s plan, never again would an afternoon sacrifice be needed. This was just as John the Baptist had prophesied: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Through Jesus’ one sacrifice, all who believe are forgiven and made holy forever.

To make sure Jesus was dead, a soldier jammed his spear into Jesus’ side, “bringing a sudden flow of blood and water” (John 19:34). That blood was the blood of forgiveness for you and me—and for all who trust in Christ alone for their salvation. What was a shadow before had now been revealed.

This section of scripture is both the exclamation point and the bridge. It is the exclamation point to everything we have covered with this incredibly deep theology, and it is the bridge to how we are to live as a result (the practical side that we will begin talking about next week). My prayer is that God will grant us the strength to press into these things. Why? Because Christ’s sacrifice is better, it moves us to worship and live differently.

Jun 12, 202344:52
What Can Wash Away My Sin?

What Can Wash Away My Sin?

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” - Hebrews 9:14 Now that the weather has become warmer and we’re working outside, it’s easy to get sweaty. We have lots of memories of saying to our kids, “Why don’t you jump in the shower and quickly rinse off.” But most of the time, after having been outside running or working for hours, they (we) need much more than just a quick rinse…We need a deep-cleaning shower! As we continue in our study of Hebrews 9 this week, we will discover that the old cove­nant laws of cleansing after a time of getting spiritually dirty provided just a quick rinse; it wasn’t a deep-down cleaning. Our passage will remind us that people needed to be fully cleansed from lives of sin, something which the blood of bulls and goats could never do. The Old Testament law included ceremonial practices of washing to be clean. But the cleaning was never complete. People would get dirty again. What the old laws pointed to was someone who could provide a full, deep cleaning, someone who lived a life that was unblemished by sin. That someone is Jesus Christ, whose death for our sake provided purification once and for all. He is the mediator of a new and better covenant. May we experience the life-changing, life-giving work of Jesus Christ, who cleanses us and makes atonement for our sins. May that knowledge move us to become “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” And may it cause us to live in anticipation of his second return, “Not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb. 9:28)

Jun 05, 202341:55
The Perfect Tabernacle

The Perfect Tabernacle

We are definitely in the thick of the message of Hebrews now. For the last several weeks, we have been working our way deeper and deeper into its mysteries, uncovering the rich truth that Jesus is our great High Priest. There's a good chance you have read or heard the name "Melchizedek" more in the last month than in the rest of your life combined! Just in case we're tempted to think that we have exhausted all that the author of Hebrews has to say about how Jesus fulfills and surpasses the Old Testament priesthood, the author goes even further in chapter 9. As we will discover on Sunday, Jesus is not only the perfect priest but the perfect Tabernacle. Jesus, through His finished work on the cross, has become the crossroads where a holy God and unholy people are brought together. I encourage you to read Hebrews 9:1-14. As you pray and reflect on these verses, ask God to give you a greater awareness of His holiness and your need for Him. Thank Him for His cleansing and renewing power in your life. Ask Him to continue to make you more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

May 31, 202342:40
A Greater Covenant

A Greater Covenant

Years ago, a TV game show called “Let’s Make A Deal” asked contestants to make a series of choices in hopes of ending up with the best possible prize. Over and over, contestants had to decide: Do I want to keep what’s in the box? Or do I want to trade it for the prize behind Door Number 2? Or should I take the cash in the host’s hand?

Audience members dressed in crazy outfits tried to grab the host’s attention. Everybody wanted a chance to participate and have a shot at winning. Some even drove away in a new car.

In Hebrews chapter 8, we find much the same. High priests are dressed in ornate outfits, with every piece having meaning. They participated in mediating between God and the people, and they offered gifts and sacrifices to make atonement for the people's sins. Though, in truth, I can’t imagine anyone driving away in a new chariot!

However, the author Hebrews seems to say God has a better deal. You can see clearly what is in your hand with the temple priests and practices, and you don’t have to guess what’s behind Door Number 2. God says that the new and better plan is Jesus! Verse 6 says, “But in fact, the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one since the new covenant is established on better promises.”

What the rest of the chapter reminds us of, however, is how this was always a part of God’s plan. God always intended this better “deal,” this new covenant in Jesus. As a result, nobody has to be excluded or lose; we all are allowed the opportunity to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. As we gather together for worship this week in person or online, may we all give thanks for the greatest prize of all - Jesus!

May 22, 202345:28
How Do We Become Perfect?

How Do We Become Perfect?

As many of you know, from time to time, I get involved in different DIY home projects. One thing I enjoy about them is that at the end of the day, you can see that you've finished something. However, that’s not the way it always works. There are far too many projects around our house that are only 90-95% percent finished. Shower doors, painting, and trim work are all things that come to mind. The bulk of the work gets finished, and then due to different circumstances (next project that must get done, time, or finances), I move on to the next thing. Experiences like these can sometimes burden us with regrets or tire us with the “tyranny of the urgent/unfinished.” But we must remember that when God is at work, He finishes it completely. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” Yes, we sometimes have to wait for God to finish his “Yes and Amen” promises when we go to Him in prayer. But when it comes to the saving work of Jesus Christ, it is done. It is finished. The writer of Hebrews reminds us there is only One who can guarantee that the whole task will be completed. Jesus is the One who “is able to save completely.” We tire and retire from our projects, but Jesus “always lives to intercede” for us! May we give thanks to the true Finisher and Completer. It is Jesus who gave Himself for us “once and for all.” It is Jesus by whom we can draw near to God. And it is Jesus who is perfect forever. With thanksgiving, we can come to Him and experience His salvation and the promised perfection of heaven.

May 15, 202350:21
Jesus: King Of Righteousness & Peace

Jesus: King Of Righteousness & Peace

“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” -Psalm 110:4

You might not have ever thought about it before, but we rely on shadows across many different areas of life. Scientifically, shadows were important in history because they provided early evidence that light traveled in straight lines. Compositionally, shadows add depth and meaning to an image; they create a mood. Artistically, actors use shadow puppets to tell a story. Meteorgically, Punxsutawney Phil uses shadows to determine if there will be more winter or not (OK, so that last one is a stretch...).

The thing about shadows is that they are a representation or a likeness of the real thing, but they are not the real thing. They may tell you what the real thing is like, or they may give you a general outline; but you would never settle for a shadow over the actual thing. I can’t hug or kiss a shadow, but I can with my wife and children.

So it is with our passage in Hebrews 7:1-10. Throughout Hebrews, we get these shadows - angels, human beings, Moses, Abraham, high priests, and Melchizedek. All of them are wonderful pictures and representations - shadows - of something better that was to come. Why would anyone settle for the old covenants and sacrificial systems when God replaced it with something far better?

The author of Hebrews now arrives at the central theme of his sermon, and Hebrews 7 begins the longest single expository section based on Genesis 14:17-20 and Psalm 110:4. What is the point? To drive home the fact that Melchizedek's priesthood was superior to the Levitical priesthood of Aaron...And that Jesus was superior to Melchizedek. In other words, Jesus over everything!

I pray that that knowledge continues to be an anchor for your souls. Because Jesus is our righteousness and peace, we have access to God. Because Jesus is greater, we never have to settle for a shadow!

May 08, 202341:59
An Anchor For Our Souls

An Anchor For Our Souls

“We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” - Hebrews 6:18-19

The writer of Hebrews uses the image of an anchor to describe the confident hope we can have in God. If you have ever been walking by the shore or lake in the summer, you are used to seeing boats bob up and down in the water or calmly drift while the occupants fish or lounge in the sunshine. Regardless of the wind, waves, or current, without an anchor, nothing can keep it in place. The anchor keeps the boat from drifting off in any direction.

No wonder Hebrews calls hope “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Just as an anchor holds a boat, so hope holds our souls. But did you ever think about this? An anchor without a rope or chain is useless. The anchor cannot serve its purpose unless the boat is tied to the anchor.

So it is with us. Without a hope that is tied to Jesus, we will not be secure. Without faith, we will drift.

Hebrews 6 explores this idea by first telling us about Abraham. It reminds us that God promised Abraham land and descendants, yet Abraham faced many threats to those promises. Thankfully, he held onto those promises, and God showed Himself to be faithful. The second example is that of Jesus. Jesus is our “forerunner,” who ran ahead of us. Yet only Jesus ran through death and returned to life. Because he did, we can be assured that God will also give us new life after death.

Our prayer is that when the waters of life get rough or when we can’t see the shore, that confident hope in Jesus will serve as the anchor for our souls.

May 01, 202344:02
Harsh Warnings & Sweet Promises

Harsh Warnings & Sweet Promises

Let’s be honest: It’s easy to become spiritually sluggish. After all, it takes energy to stay the course. My guess is that Paul understood this. In Colossians 1:9-11 he says, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have

great endurance and patience....”

Just as Pastor Andrew reminded us that we need to continue to grow and mature and crave pure, spiritual food, we need to continually ask God to fill us with knowledge of His will to avoid spiritual drift. Sadly, many of us find it easy to become lazy in the affairs of the soul. We skip our prayers, slide through worship, and don’t make regular Bible reading a habit. We have things happen to us, and we experience the pain of the choices we (or others make), and it causes us to question.

Taken to its extreme, this sluggishness might lead to thoughts like, “Do I believe these things anymore?” Have I matured enough and done enough work that God could save me?” “Am I even a Christian?”

While Hebrews 6 warns us about spiritual drift, it is actually filled with hope. It is never too late to hear God’s call to return and to remember that God is present and faithful. God is a promise-keeper, and His promises to save and bring us to glory are guaranteed in Christ.

Apr 24, 202346:25
Dull Hearers And Milk Drinkers

Dull Hearers And Milk Drinkers

If someone calls you a "milk drinker," they probably don't intend it as a compliment.
The author of Hebrews certainly wasn't trying to compliment the spiritual condition of his listeners when he compared them to children who were not ready for solid food. To be fair, he probably didn't intend to insult them, either. Instead, he wanted to send them a clear warning that their lack of knowledge was a sign that they were in spiritual danger. Likening them to spiritual milk drinkers probably got their attention! Even though Jesus commended a faith that is childlike in its sincerity, wonder, and trust, He does not want us to remain in a state of perpetual immaturity when it comes to our knowledge of spiritual matters or our readiness to serve Him. Living the life He desires for us requires the strength and maturity that comes from eating solid food. If we never move past spiritual milk, we will be unprepared for the demands of authentic discipleship. Just as we may hear people say, "You are what you eat," to encourage a healthy diet, our passage this Sunday reminds us that what we feed upon spiritually determines what kind of people we will become.
I invite you to read Hebrews 5:11-6:3 and think about the difference between those who drink spiritual milk and those who eat solid food. Ask Jesus to show you areas in your life where He would like to wean you onto a richer and more sustaining relationship with Him.

Apr 17, 202346:03
Jesus, Our Great High Priest

Jesus, Our Great High Priest

Priests were God’s chosen servants; they served as mediators between God and his people. They worked in the temple, praying for the people and bringing their sacrifices to God. They offered sacrifices on behalf of the people to make atonement for their sins. And only the high priest was allowed to enter the most holy place to stand before God. Earlier in Hebrews, Jesus is referred to as the “faithful high priest.” In chapter 4, he is called the “great high priest.” This means he is actually the greatest of all high priests. He is the one true High Priest. Jesus is the greatest because, unlike all the others, he “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Because he is sinless and perfect, he is able to stand before God as the one who can make atonement for our sins. Because of his perfect life, Jesus’ atonement for our sins is real and lasting. For this reason, we do not need to be afraid to enter God’s presence; in fact, we can have “confidence” when we approach God. We can be confident that we will “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” As we gather together this Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that we no longer have to be afraid to approach God. Instead, we can approach him confidently, knowing that even though we cannot do this in our own strength, we can do it through Jesus, the great High Priest. So may we worship together with great joy and assurance, and may we enthusiastically invite others to share in that joy!

Apr 10, 202345:33
Walking In Faithfulness

Walking In Faithfulness

A few weeks ago, we talked about paying attention, so we don’t drift away. Like the warning signs that tell us of the dangers of a riptide, we need to pay attention so that it doesn’t lead to severe injury or death. The problem is that, sometimes, we get so used to seeing the warnings that we begin to ignore them. When that happens, disaster is right around the corner.
That was the issue for the people of Israel. The writer of Hebrews gives us a warning sign by telling us about the history of when Israel was wandering in the desert and when they rebelled against God. “Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing…” (Hebrews 3:8). Because they hardened their hearts, an entire generation couldn’t enter the Promised Land.
We would do well to learn from the mistakes of others.
There is no doubt that spiritually, times are difficult. It is not easy to be a Christian in our culture. Yet we must also remember that “easy” spiritually has its own pitfalls - our faith can become atrophied and weak. Testing can be good as it can strengthen our faith, but when we face trials, we must seek to avoid a heart that grumbles against God.
How do we combat this and walk in faithfulness? A critical lesson in Hebrews 3 is that by staying in community with each other, we can encourage one another in our walk with God. Scripture gives us this recipe: love, encourage, and pray for one another. By doing so, and in God’s amazing grace, the Holy Spirit uses these acts of mutual care to see us press on in our faith.

Mar 28, 202344:05
The Tale Of Two Shepherds

The Tale Of Two Shepherds

This weekend we’ll explore how the author of Hebrews compares Jesus and Moses. In this epistle’s first few verses, Jesus is shown to be supreme over the entire cosmos, and then the scope of comparison narrows to celestial beings, humanity, and to Moses himself.
Touting Jesus as worthier of greater honor than Moses was a bold claim in the first century. Moses had always been revered as God’s chief representative. A larger-than-life figure administered the divine law and led the entire nation out of its centuries-long bondage in Egypt. Even Israel’s neighbors acknowledged that God had worked powerfully through Moses to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In our passage, we find that Jesus and Moses are both worthy of honor, but in different respects. While one was a faithful servant within God’s house, the other remained faithful over God’s house, shepherding his people into spiritual abundance.
As this empowering message unfolds, we will see that everything Moses presided over had always been intended to point toward the advent of our Savior—the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20)—and to his life-giving ministry.

Mar 20, 202339:32
The Supremacy Of Christ To Human Beings

The Supremacy Of Christ To Human Beings

In case you haven't noticed, Jesus is pretty amazing. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews seems to think so, too, since he has much to say about who Jesus is. As we have seen in the last few weeks, Hebrews exuberantly proclaims that Jesus is supreme over everything.

That implies, of course, that He is supreme over all of humanity. However, as we'll discover in Hebrews 2, Jesus is not only supreme over humanity. He is supreme in humanity. In other words, He is the supreme human. This week we will discover why that is astoundingly Good News.

I invite you to read Hebrews 2:5-18. What do these verses tell you about Jesus? What do they tell you about what it means to be human? How does the fact that Jesus became truly human for us eternally makes a difference in our lives? How can the supreme humanity of Christ make a difference in your life today?

Mar 13, 202343:23
Pay Attention

Pay Attention

What is the purpose of a level? It’s a tool filled with a liquid and an air bubble where the bubble's position reveals whether a surface is perfectly “level” or “plumb.” From carpenters to engineers to weekend warriors hanging pictures, we use them to ensure the work is straight (or level). Interestingly, although we may be off a fraction of a degree initially and not notice, we would be vastly far from the plumb line if that line were carried out a great distance.

Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” In other words, if our level is Jesus Christ and the written word of God (the things we learned in Hebrews chapter 1), then we should do our best to live for Jesus according to His standards in Scripture. To do anything less leads to drifting.

Drifting begins by asking, “Did the Bible really mean that when it says that?” “Can I take out the parts that I don’t like?” “Is Jesus really who He says (and Scripture says) He is?” Once you arrive at the place where Jesus Christ and the Word of God are no longer your plumb line, what else remains as your level? You! Society!

The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this leads to a life that has drifted far away from God, and the warning given is one of punishment. 

As we continue our journey through Hebrews, we will be challenged this week to continue walking with Jesus day by day. If we don’t, and if we’re not growing, the writer raises the question: Have we ever really begun the Christian life? He leaves the question hanging in the air, which can seem so haunting: “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (2:3) May the Lord help us pay attention and grow up in our faith.

Mar 06, 202340:04
Catechism and Sacraments Q&A: Did God Create Us Unable To Keep His Law?

Catechism and Sacraments Q&A: Did God Create Us Unable To Keep His Law?

This episode will explore question 14 of the New City Catechism with our panel: Mary Morton, and Caleb Warner

The fourteenth question in the New City Catechism is: Did God Create Us Unable To Keep His Law?

The answer is: No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature, and unable to keep God's law.

The Bible passage this question and answer is based on is Romans 5:12, which says,

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—"

Mar 02, 202353:10
The Supremacy Of Christ To Angels

The Supremacy Of Christ To Angels

In C.S. Lewis’ work Mere Christianity, he uses a word that we don’t often use in modern English yet is often heard in Christian circles: “beget.” He says, “To beget is to become the father of, to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set, or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set: a statue. If he is a clever enough carver, he may make a statue that is very like a man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive…Now that is the first thing to get clear. God begets is God; just as what man begets is the man.”

If I were to pick a quote that sums up Hebrews 1:4-14, that would be it. It reminds us that there is a difference between Christ and the angels - the angels were made, but the Son was begotten. This makes Jesus superior to them in every way. For the religious cults that claim that Jesus was nothing more than an angel, or the highest created angel (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons), Hebrews 1 demolishes that theory!  What do we read in Hebrews 1:5? “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’”?

Feb 27, 202339:45
God Speaks

God Speaks

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” Hebrews 1:1-2

I believe that we human beings long to hear the voice of God. We hear the voices of the world around us, but we long for something more. Deep in our souls, we ache for assurance that God is real, and we want to hear from Him. But it can often seem like hearing from God is beyond our reach.

The author of Hebrews calls our attention to the variety of ways in which God speaks, and none of these require us to ascend to heaven ourselves. Certainly, we see how God spoke through prophets. God also addressed the people through His word, which was written down. In the Bible, we have the record of God’s interactions with humanity and the stories of God’s people throughout history; all of these things reveal God’s character to us.

But, ultimately, we see it in how God spoke through His Word - Jesus Christ. Jesus, who was a part of the triune God who spoke creation into existence, is also the same one who speaks at its consummation. Knowing that Jesus is the maker of all things means we can trust in him for all things. We can depend on Him as the one who cares for His creation. So when things in life seem to be out of control, we can trust in the sovereign power of Jesus as Lord over everything.

This week, as we gather together in our sanctuary, we also begin a new sermon series on the book of Hebrews. Jesus is the mind of God, and as such, what more can be said than what God has spoken to us through his Son? In him, we hear God’s voice. It doesn't require some mysterious spiritual practice or special knowledge; Jesus is the megaphone that tells us how to hear God’s voice and see His love in action here on earth.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Aaron

Feb 20, 202342:08
Getting Past Your Personal Failures

Getting Past Your Personal Failures

During the past several weeks, our worship and study of Scripture have focused on God's call for us to live in harmony with one another. As we have seen, God has a lot to say about this in His Word. His desire is that we will live more and more as a people who are united in Christ, who love one another, and who forgive each other. Yet, in order to do this, we first need to be brought into unity with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

As we complete our "Living Together in Harmony" sermon series this Sunday, we will focus on the foundation of all Christian unity and reconciliation, which is reconciliation with God Himself. Until we become part of God's new creation, our best efforts to achieve harmony with one another will fall short. However, God's wonderful promise to all who come to Him is that His grace overcomes our past failures, shortcomings, and brokenness, and he gives us a new start as participants in His new creation. The old has gone, and the new has come!

Feb 13, 202346:01
Apologizing To Those You've Hurt

Apologizing To Those You've Hurt

“When he came to his senses, he said…“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” So he got up and went to his father.”  Matthew 15:17-20

Have you ever had one of those moments where you jumped to a faulty conclusion and yelled at your spouse or children for something they didn’t do? Hopefully, you also realize that you need to apologize when you realize that you hurt them. It can be an awkward moment (especially with our children), but it helps to establish trust that can last a lifetime. I believe that our relationships will be closer if we share our brokenness. There is an intimacy that comes from confession.

But let’s be honest - no one enjoys admitting they are wrong. We hope our spouse, or children, or friends will overlook our shortcomings and not call us out for our inconsistencies. We want to preserve the illusion of having our life pulled together. No one wants to say, “I was wrong, and I'm sorry!”

The problem is that we end up missing out on the blessing that follows by avoiding those painful words. When a wound is cleaned, the healing can begin; but if we live with sin festering in our lives, we miss the healing and wholeness that God has made available to us.

As we continue in our sermon series, Living Together in Harmony, we will see that confession and asking for forgiveness are key components to healing in relationships. Yet, not only does it impact how we relate to others, but it also relates to our relationship with God. We need to seek forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

Feb 06, 202342:39
Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: Can Anyone Keep The Law Of God Perfectly?

Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: Can Anyone Keep The Law Of God Perfectly?

This episode will explore question 13 of the New City Catechism with our panel: Steve Meulink, and Kathy Davis

The thirteenth question in the New City Catechism is: Can Anyone Keep The Law Of God perfectly?

The answer is: Since the fall, no mere human has been able to keep The Law of God perfectly, but consistently breaks it in thought, word, and deed.

The Bible passage this question and answer is based on is Romans 3:10-12, which says,

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

Feb 02, 202334:03
Forgiving Those Who Hurt You

Forgiving Those Who Hurt You

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?’” Matthew 18:21

The story in this parable seems almost impossible to imagine. Why would anyone who has just been forgiven a million-dollar debt refuse to forgive a debt of a few dollars? It doesn’t make sense.

Consider, though, how hard it can be to forgive others. How long have we held a grudge against someone, even for a simple mistake? Or how about refusing to forgive someone for saying something that hurt you—perhaps so long ago that you can’t remember what they said? Or maybe the offense was more serious. Perhaps a spouse betrayed you, a coworker lied and got you fired, a parent abused you, or a bully made your life miserable.

Only the grace of God makes it possible to forgive people who sin against us. Only when we begin to realize how much God has forgiven us in Christ can we learn to forgive. We forgive, not SO THAT we will be forgiven. This isn’t a quid pro quo. We forgive BECAUSE we have been forgiven. We can’t earn our forgiveness, but how we live shows how much we are open to being changed by the Lord’s grace.

As we continue our sermon series on “Living Together in Harmony,” we’ll examine how forgiveness fosters freedom in our relationships. How many of us long to experience that in life? So let’s look forward with great joy to the opportunity to worship together, learn together, and fellowship together over a delicious meal. Be blessed this week!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Aaron

Jan 30, 202347:32
The Feeling Of Fatigue

The Feeling Of Fatigue

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me, and I will give you rest.”  -Matthew 11:28

Because of the size of our family, flying to destinations and renting a car isn’t always an option for us. Our default is usually to hop in the car and make a road trip out of it. Sometimes we’ll drive straight through the night. Other times we’ll get a hotel. And, occasionally, we’ll pull into a rest stop to sleep for an hour or two.

While there is some debate about the introduction of the first rest stop, “safety rest areas” were constructed as part of the U.S. interstate highway system that was created in 1956. They were envisioned as off-road respites where motorists could take a break. They were easy to access and offered clean bathrooms, drinking water, and picnic grounds.

While many gas stations and fast food restaurants have popped up off exits today, imagine a time when that wasn’t the case. Imagine a time when there weren’t many options for family road trippers needing rest. I, for one, am thankful for the opportunity to stretch my legs, make a pit stop, and rest from a weary drive.

Of course, we don’t have to drive to feel weary and in need of rest. Cell phones keep us constantly connected to one another and to work. 9-5? If only that were possible! The kids are clamoring for attention. Illness sets in. Bills pile up. Relationships get messy. We place our heads on our pillows only to have the alarm clock buzz, and we repeat the routine. Fatigue sets in.

If you feel that way, you need to know that a quiet voice has been calling to you - the voice of Jesus. He knows you are tired and weary and invites you to come to him and find the rest that our souls long for. If you want real rest, the best place to find it is by becoming completely dependent on the true “rest area” for our weary soul - Jesus Christ.

Jan 23, 202340:54
Letting Go Of Your Labels

Letting Go Of Your Labels

“You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”  -Isaiah 62:2

Marriage is a metaphor often used in the Bible to describe God’s love for his people. In Isaiah, we see it as a word picture depicting the Lord as a bridegroom and rejoicing over his people as his bride. It is a deeply personal metaphor that is used in such a way as to express the infinite value of salvation and eternal life.

In the book of Isaiah, he prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem, the people’s exile to another land, and (later) their restoration. The promise of salvation is pictured this way in verse 5: “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (‘My Delight is in her’), and your land Beulah (‘Married’).” And, “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

As we continue in our Living Together in Harmony series, we will be studying how we can let go of our labels and the names given to us by ourselves and others. How many of us carry around the wounds and the scars of what people have said about us? How many of us believe the lie that all we ever will be are these labels?

Instead, we will find how we can live in the new name God has given us. When we are joined together in Christ, we are given a new name and a new identity. We are children of God. We are heirs of the promise and co-heirs with Christ. We have an eternal inheritance. As such, we can see ourselves differently.

Jan 16, 202335:45
Go, Fight, WIN!

Go, Fight, WIN!

What do you do when your friend hasn’t been much of a friend? How do you respond when your coworker brags about being dishonest? How do you respond to a fellow church member who disagrees with you about some subject? In a world of such dissonance, how can we model what it means to be a people of harmony?

As we embark together on a new sermon series this week, we’ll be unpacking how we can navigate conflict in our world. How should we respond when you and I experience conflict within ourselves, our families, our places of work, and our churches? Do we fight? Do we flee? Do we live in fatigue? Do we forgive?

In this first sermon on Matthew 7:1-6, what we will see is how a judgmental attitude often leads to brokenness in relationships. While showing genuine concern for people living contrary to the gospel is appropriate, we are not called to pronounce a verdict on them. If the sin is more important than the soul, it indicates that we are the ones with the issue.

We will find that in our desire to fight and win, Jesus calls us to remember that he alone is the truly righteous judge. He also calls us to do the humbling work of self-examination. Only then can we appropriately come alongside other people who may be struggling with brokenness and sin.

Jan 09, 202340:15
The Gift That Keeps Giving

The Gift That Keeps Giving

A Peaceful New Year to You in Christ’s Name!

The post-holiday blues often spoil the joy which we greeted advent with. Before long, our roasts will have been eaten, the presents torn open, the carols sung, and our beautiful trees will be toppled. How can we carry our great Christmas hope into the new year?

As we peek into 2023 through rain-soaked windows, let’s recall that each of us still holds a priceless gift. Mysteriously, we have opened this gift several times, and yet, this parcel remains wrapped, without expiration, and ever accessible. Can you guess what it is?

Despite a good start, the Colossians had become distracted by shinier spiritual toys promising more and better divine revelation. While they already possessed Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3), they sought a spiritual upgrade which combined strict ritual adherence with heavenly visions. In a sense, they forgot all about their gift.

In response, Paul prayed that the Colossians would be continually filled with the knowledge of God’s will “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Col 1:9-10).

Thanks to Christ’s advent and our adoption into God’s family, we can appeal for this divine guidance as often as we wish! We can also pray for our brothers and sisters to benefit from these treasures of wisdom and knowledge in 2023.

Before stepping out into uncertain days, let us unwrap this gift afresh and anticipate God’s help, knowing that he will meet our every need in Christ Jesus.

Matthew Liethen

Jan 05, 202336:06
Christmas Eve 2022

Christmas Eve 2022

Christmas Eve 2022!

Dec 29, 202233:04
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Do you ever feel like you are so busy getting ready for Christmas that Christmas itself becomes an afterthought? As much as I enjoy so many of the trappings of the Christmas season--the music, decorations, delicious food, parties, family gatherings, advent calendars, shopping for gifts, and extra church services--this time of the year can be exhausting. For many of us, this season, when we are regaled with tidings of "peace on earth and goodwill toward men," can ironically seem like one of the noisiest, most chaotic, most stressful, and most expensive times of the year. By the time it's over, many of us are ready for a long winter's nap.

In the midst of our frantic pace of life, the carol of Christmas that we will examine on Christmas morning stops us in our tracks. "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," an ancient hymn of Christmas and communion, urges us to cast aside our earthly distractions and enter into the divine mystery of Christ's incarnation and sacrifice for us. In haunting and solemn melodies, it reminds our restless souls who Jesus really is and what really matters most.

I would like to invite you to ask yourself what has been distracting you from Jesus this week and make an effort to put it aside. Confess your distractedness and restlessness to the Lord. Read the words of Habakkuk 2:20, and ask Jesus to help you to be still and silent before Him.

Dec 29, 202238:41
Joy To The World

Joy To The World

People say that joy is “The response we have to being united with what we love.” That means that it can be one of the highest experiences of human life. The journey to a desired destination brings joy. The arrival of a child at the end of a pregnancy brings joy. To experience freedom after a time in confinement brings joy.

Music is also one of those endeavors that leads to joy and rejoicing because it emanates from a place of joy within us. Music involves our bodies, minds, and emotions. Music touches our hearts and invokes a response.

It’s no wonder that so much of the Christmas season is filled with beautiful music. It should also be no surprise that the songs of the season come from the truths and joy of Scripture. Fittingly, as we sing and study together “Joy to the World,” it echoes the words of the Psalmist: “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Why? Because the Lord “has done marvelous things.”

Psalm 98:2 says, “The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” The marvelous thing we celebrate this season is the salvation He brings in Jesus Christ. He is our King. He is our Savior. He is our Redeemer. And He is returning! That good news should lead us to join with all of heaven and earth to sing.

Dec 20, 202243:20
Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Ninth and Tenth Commandments?

Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Ninth and Tenth Commandments?

This episode will explore question 11 of the New City Catechism with our panel: Sunday School Teacher Angie Leopold, and Children's Director Angela Ayers

The twelfth question in the New City Catechism is: What Does God Require in the Ninth and Tenth Commandments?

The answer is: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.

The Bible passage this question and answer is based on is James 2:8 , which says,

"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well."

Dec 15, 202253:55
O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, All Ye Faithful

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  -John 1:14

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is one of the more well-known songs of Christmas. Most of the time, we are familiar with the first three verses that tell the story of Christ’s birth with triumphant joy. Yet it’s the fourth stanza that draws deeply from Scripture and talks of the great mystery that is described in John 1.

In what you might call the prologue to the book of John, those early verses describe Jesus as the “Word of God.” “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In those opening fourteen verses of Scripture, we find a summary of the purpose of the coming of Christ. For all who receive Jesus and believe in him as the true light of the world, we are promised the “right to become children of God.” What an amazing, life-altering promise!

John 1 also says, “The Word be­came flesh and made his dwell­ing among us.” In other words, God himself came to be one of us. He came to live with us. He came to provide us with the gift of becoming children of God. When we sing, “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,” this simple yet profound lyric reminds us that God himself has come to be one of us.

That’s what we celebrate at Christmas! We celebrate the mystery that God became one of us so that He could save us from the curse of sin and death, giving us new life as the children of God. That good news leads us and invites us to sing, “O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”

Dec 12, 202240:46
Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Commandments?

Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Commandments?

This episode will explore question 11 of the New City Catechism with our panel: Elder John Leopold, Deacon Sam Richter, and Communication Director Maegan McFarland

The eleventh question in the New City Catechism is: What Does God Require in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Commandments?

The answer is: Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit. 

The Bible passage this question and answer is based on is Romans 13:9, which says,

“For the commandments, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Dec 08, 202201:01:43
Hark! The Herald Angel Sings

Hark! The Herald Angel Sings

Dear Presby Family,

The season of Advent is here, and with it come many familiar rhythms, routines, and rituals that remind us of our Savior's birth. In the weeks ahead, we will light Advent candles, recount familiar truths, and sing hymns and carols that proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ, our Immanuel. Each Sunday, we will pay particular attention to a different Christmas hymn, considering its message and examining the truths that it teaches about Jesus.

This Sunday, we will focus on "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," a hymn that was penned nearly three centuries ago that is still well-known and widely used today. As you prepare for Sunday, I encourage you to listen to this song, look up the words, and read through the account of the shepherds and the angels in Luke 2:8-15. What similarities and differences do you notice between Scripture and song? How does this song shape your understanding of who Jesus is? What other Scripture passages come to mind as you ponder this Christmas carol?

As we explore the message of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" together, I hope you will revel in the majestic truths it teaches. I hope you will gain a new appreciation for this song's strengths and imperfections. 

Dec 06, 202237:36
Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Fourth and Fifth Commandments?

Catechism and Sacraments Q & A: What Does God Require in the Fourth and Fifth Commandments?

This episode will explore question 10 of the New City Catechism with our panel: Presby Preschool Director Jeff Peck, and Senior Pastor Aaron Klein

The tenth question in the New City Catechism is: What Does God Require in the Fourth and Fifth Commandments?

The answer is: Fourth, that on the Sabbath Day we spend time in public and private worship of God, rest from routine employment, serve the Lord and others, and so anticipate the eternal Sabbath. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother, submitting to their Godly discipline and direction.

The Bible passage this question and answer is based on is Leviticus 19:3, which says,

"Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God."

Dec 01, 202253:24
O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

How many of you have ever experienced something like this? “Try it; you’ll like it.” Then, even if you respond that you’d rather not try it because you don’t really like it, the person comes back with, “Well, you’ve never had mine.”

“Tasting and seeing that the Lord is good” is something we often hear during this time of year. But what if you feel like what you are “tasting and seeing” isn’t particularly good? What if you are experiencing an empty seat at the table this year because of the passing of a loved one? What if you are experiencing a health complication? What if your financial outlook is bleak? (What else might you add to this list?)

It’s almost as if God is saying to us, “Try what I have to offer you instead.” David’s Psalm is one that invites us to discover the goodness of the Lord in the midst of whatever it is we are facing. In fact, David is celebrating that God has rescued him from his fears and troubles, and he is inviting us to give thanks for God’s salvation. No matter our context, we can give thanks for the ability to take refuge in God and to taste and see that God’s resurrecting, and restoring power is making all things new.

Psalm 34 is a song of gratitude we can all sing in every season of our lives because it is a reminder that God promises to bless His people. God will deliver, guard, supply, listen and redeem all who trust in His power to save. In fact, David’s joy is only a foretaste of the future redemption God will bring to all who trust in Him and call on Jesus Christ.

Nov 28, 202239:52
Joy In Contentment

Joy In Contentment

The Secret to Joy

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” - Philippians 4:11

What does it mean for us to be content? Can we ever truly be content? When we look around, it can be hard to imagine having total contentment. Sometimes it feels like the human heart is always looking for something more - more of this or that, the latest upgrade, or something that needs improvement. And how can we be content with so many things happening around us in the world? Wars. Economic threats. Racism. Oppression. Broken governments. All these things sow discontent everywhere.

Yet when Paul talks about what it means to be content, he’s not talking about finding it in the tangible things of this world. He knows he can’t find fulfillment in whether he’s well-fed or has plenty. For him, the secret of his contentment is to have his life defined by Jesus, not by his circumstances. His sense of peace focuses on the fact that Jesus promises to make all things right.

True contentment rests in the promise that God does not abandon the children he loves. It rests in the strength of Jesus Christ. And it also rejoices in the concern that believers show as they help one another, how they reach out to others in all kinds of different circumstances, and how it looks ahead in hope to the day when Jesus will return and remove all discontent.

Nothing in life lasts. Food spoils. Friendships shift and break. Hurricanes, drought, and wildfires consume livelihood. So why not look to a better way forward by finding contentment in the One who has already given you the eternal life “that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4)?

Nov 21, 202239:02