A Searching Father
August 25, 2021 • Vlad Baraniuk • Luke 15
"A Searching Father Luke 15" Repentance exposes God’s heart • God’s love searches • God’s love celebrates • God’s love is constant Repentance uncovers my deepest need • Shows my worth in God’s sight • Shows the destruction of sin • Shows the nearness of the Father • Shows the insanity of self-righteousness Personal Responses • The first son rejected the father in his rebellion • The second son rejected the father in his religion • The third Son was rejected by the Father, so I can be accepted"
I Want to Be Happy
August 11, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor • Matthew 5:1–12
I Want To Be Happy Matthew 5:1-12 4 Truths Concerning the Pursuit of Happiness 1. The Pursuit of True Happiness is Part of God’s Purpose for You and Me 2. The Pursuit of True Happiness is an Inward Journey 3. The Pursuit of True Happiness is Not the Goal but a By-Product 4. The Pursuit of True Happiness Will Lead You Ultimately to Jesus Christ
Dealing With Discouragement
July 21, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
In this week's Wednesday Bible study we look at how Nehemiah and the Israelites dealt with discouragement as they rebuilt the wall, and how we can apply the same principles to our own lives. Text: Nehemiah 4:1-23 Why We Become Discouraged 1. Fatigue (v. 10) 2. Frustration (v. 10) 4. Fear (v. 11) Reactions towards Discouragement: 1. Reset - (v. 13) 2. Remember (v. 14) 3. Resist (v. 14)
GO Next Door with Whit & David
July 14, 2021 • Whit Lewis & David Windham
In this Wednesday gathering Whit and David share with us about GO Next Door. What is GO Next Door? GO Next Door is a neighboring emphasis where we will intentionally pray for, meet, and form relationships with our neighbors with the goal of inviting them to know Christ, know community, and know our church family. For more information check out the attached pdf.
The Hand of God and Man's Secret to Success
July 7, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
The Hand of God and Man’s Secret to Success Ezra 7:1-10 I’ve learned that whenever anyone is successful, people want to know the secret. Talk show hosts, podcast, books ask successful people the “secret” of their great achievements, the answers they get are varied and sometimes contradictory. Some successful people will give credit to their talents or personal discipline, while others will boast in family support or access to superior training. If we had interviewed Ezra and asked him the secret of his successful life, he would have said humbly, “The good hand of the Lord was upon me,” a phrase that’s found six times in Ezra 7 and 8 (7:6, 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31). Nothing but the blessing of God can explain how an obscure Jewish priest and scholar, born in Babylonian Captivity, could accomplish so much for God and Israel when so much was working against him. God’s good hand was upon this man doesn’t minimize the importance of his personal faithfulness or his great ability as a scholar, nor does it ignore the great help King Artaxerxes gave him. God uses all kinds of people to accomplish His will, but if God’s hand isn’t at work in us and through us, nothing will be accomplished. It’s the principle Jesus taught His disciples, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Secret of Ezra’s Success Ezra was a great man—one of the all-time heroes of the faith. He had the will to lead; he had a heart for holiness; he had a mind for biblical truth. If we want to follow his example, we should ask what made him so great and so good. What was the secret of Ezra’s spiritual success? In one sense, it was the grace of God, of course, and the Bible is careful to point this out. • Why did Ezra found favor in the eyes of the king? “The hand of the Lord his God was on him” (7:6). • How was he able to make his journey back to Jerusalem? “The good hand of his God was on him” (7:9). • Where did he find the courage to lead the people of Israel? Ezra speaks of God’s “steadfast love” and testifies, “the hand of the Lord my God was on me” (7:28). Ezra was a man under the hand of God. It is the hand of God that gives courage for spiritual leadership, humility for corporate repentance, and wisdom for teaching God’s Word. Praise God for the hand of guidance that has brought you to your present place of service, for the hand of providence that will supply all your needs, for the hand of discipline that will train you in righteousness, and for the hand of comfort that will sustain you through trials. The hand of God is on you for blessing. Yet, there is another side to all this. Ezra had the hand of God on him, but at the same time he had to be faithful to his calling. He was not a marionette, dangling uselessly until God pulled his strings. He was a human being, with a mind, a heart, and a will that was made to glorify God. Therefore, he needed to be faithful to the sacred trust that God had given him. He needed to train his gifts for ministry and then put them to good use. Ezra did that. This is obvious from all the good that he accomplished. But the Bible also shows us what was inside the man, giving us an intimate glimpse into Ezra’s approach to life and ministry. Do you want to know what enabled him to exercise such an influential ministry? Look again at Ezra 7:10: “Ezra had determined in his heart to study the Law of the Lord, obey it and teach it’s statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Studying, Doing, and Teaching the Law This verse is one of the Bible’s best summaries of what it means to be a faithful servant of God’s Word. It is a wonderful verse for pastors, for seminary students, for theology professors—really, it is a wonderful verse for everyone. I know this from experience because I sought to embrace this verse early in my ministry. • Picture of verse hanging in my study The logic of this verse is impeccable. There were three things that Ezra was committed to doing, and he had them in the proper order, like “A-B-C” or “1-2-3.” In fact, Ezra had them in the only order that makes any sense: he had his heart set on studying, doing, and teaching the Word of God. This was his heart commitment, the direction of his life, the settled intention of his soul. 1. Studying God’s Word Start with studying. Before we can do what God wants us to do, or teach anyone else what God wants them to do, we need to know what God wants us to do, and that means studying God’s Word. Ezra had committed himself to doing that. We do not know his study habits, but we know that he was skilled in the Law of Moses. His “delight was in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditated day and night” (Ps 1:2). The unrelenting ambition of his life was to know the Word of God. 2. Living by God’s Word But Ezra did not stop there. He did not want merely to learn the Bible; he wanted to live it. So the Scripture says that he set his heart to do the law that he had studied. This meant loving the Lord his God with all his strength and loving his neighbor as himself. It meant keeping the Ten Commandments. It meant following all the regulations for priestly holiness and public worship. It meant doing everything he could to live by God’s law. Ezra understood that the only true theology is applied theology. 3. Teaching God’s Word Then there was a third step: teaching God’s statutes and rules in Israel. Ezra would have taken issue with the famous advertising slogan: Just Do It! “No,” Ezra, would have said, “I can’t just do it. If I want to learn how to do it, I have to study it first, and then if it’s worth doing, I will be compelled to teach other people how to do it, too.” His slogan went more like this: “Don’t just do it! Study it, do it, teach it.” Notice as well the scope of Ezra’s vision for ministry. He wanted to teach God’s law “in Israel.” He wanted to reach his entire nation with the Word of God. He saw that he had a responsibility to the wider spiritual community. It was his calling and privilege to spend long periods of time studying God’s Word. But this was not for his benefit alone; it was for the edification of the people of God. Eventually God granted Ezra his heart’s desire. When he read the Book of the Law to all the people in Jerusalem, he was teaching God’s statutes and rules in Israel–the Bible teacher for the kingdom. But all of that came later. Ezra did not begin as a teacher; he became one. Sometimes people feel called to a teaching ministry, and they get right into teaching before they have done the hard work of really mastering the Bible. Then all they have to offer is their own spiritual experience; they cannot share the deepest riches of God’s Word. Or sometimes–and this is especially tempting for seminary students and pastors–they go right from studying to teaching without having the Word of God really transform their lives. It goes from the mind to the mouth without ever passing through the heart. Application: All of this is easy to apply. Like Ezra, you are called to be a student of God’s Word. We are all called to study God’s Word, and to do it, and as we have the opportunity, to teach it to others. This means spending time reading the Bible every day—not in an academic way, but in a devotional way, nurturing our love relationship with Jesus Christ. It means meditating on Scripture and memorizing it. It means devoting the very best of our powers to learning what God has said in his Word. It also means paying special attention to new areas of personal obedience. We want to do more than study the Bible; we want to live by it. So what is God saying to you today that you need put into practice in your daily life? What will he say to you tomorrow and the day after that? Do not be content with what you have already attained, but strive to grow in godliness. Experience the fresh power of the Word of God. Then once you start living the truth, then and only then can you be trusted to teach it to others. But bear in mind that this is the goal of all your studies. You do not study God’s Word for your own benefit, but for the sake of others. The knowledge you gain is a sacred trust that God has given you in order that you might give it away. So set your heart to study the Word of God, and to do it, and to teach it to wherever God calls you.
June 30, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
When we become complacent in our walk with God we all need, repeatedly, for God's Spirit to blow fresh upon us in spiritual renewal. 1. Renewal with God is possible, no matter how spiritually low you've gone. 2. Renewal with God must focus on His cross. In Ezra 3, the first thing they did was to rebuild the altar. Why did they begin with the altar? Because our fundamental need, if we want to draw near to God, is forgiveness of our sins. If you are a believer who has strayed from the Lord, the cross is still the place for a new beginning. 3. Renewal with God must focus on obedience to His Word. They knew to set up the altar because is was written in the law of Moses. (Ezra 3:2) The standard we need to evaluate everything is to ask the question, "Does it line up with Scripture and properly glorify God as He is revealed in His Word? Does it promote holiness in God's people, in line with His Word?" If you want a renewal with God, it is available. Begin at the cross and then walk in obedience to His Word. 4. Renewal with God must focus on building up His House A. Building up God's house requires the courage to stand together against this hostile world. Some have focused on building a strong and well-armed militia, but these men knew that help from man is in vain if the Lord is not in His rightful place. B. Building up God's house requires giving our time, talent, and treasures. Your willingness to give, and the proportion that you give, are perhaps the best indicators that Jesus is Lord of your heart. C. Building up God's house requires working in unity under godly leadership. Unity was essential because of the enemy that would shortly threaten and shut down the work. When the enemy wants to stop such a work, often he disrupts the unity. D. Building up God's house requires an emphasis on corporate worship. Both personal and corporate worship focus on God and affirm by faith His goodness and covenant love. E. Building up God's house requires a spirit of cooperation between the different generations within the church. We need all ages in God's church, and we should learn from one another. Renewal with God is always possible and must focus on the cross, on obedience to His Word, and on building up His house.