Monthly Archives: March 2015

Visible Unity

Body of Christ

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6)


I have been greatly encouraged to see the number of covenant members of our church, and our regular weekly attendance, steadily grow. The two greatest reasons that newest members of our church family regularly give, for joining us, is Jesus and you!


They have been attracted to our church because they see the value we place on God’s Word. We come together each week not for entertainment, politicking or speculation, but to hear the Word of Christ proclaimed from outside of us to all of us. The “right preaching of the Word” is one of the distinctions of an authentic church and one that our church’s leaders and members understood as crucial to its health. Visitors to our church quickly discern, and often remark, on the centrality of the Word in our worship, not only through the preaching of the Word, but by its prominence in our reading, singing, confessing and praying. We’re a Christocentric, Word-centric church.


First time visitors to our church almost always remark about the presence of Christ among our assembly on Sunday morning. They mention how they saw Christ in you, the love you have for one another and how “alive” you are. What’s the reason for this? See above! You’re like this because of Jesus and because of the work God is presently doing in you, through the faith He’s given each of you. One of the best five minutes of each Sunday morning, for me, is the five minutes before the start of the service, when I see the body of Christ assembled, glad to be with one another and to worship the living God. That’s a testimony to the other 75 minutes of our worship together before God.


Sam Allberry said, “We express our invisible unity with all believers in the universal church through our visible unity in the local church.” The New Testament never envisioned or prescribed for the church to be you and Charles Stanley on Sunday morning, or just Jesus and you. It assumes Christians will “come together as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18). It assumes we will “not forsake the assembly of ourselves together, as is the manner of some” (Heb. 10:25). The church came together for worship, in the book of Acts, on “the Lord’s Day.”


At this point, I could tell you that attending church is like taking your vitamins, exercising or eating well, and that if you don’t, you’re spiritual health is at risk, which is true. I could list all the “benefits” of never missing a Lord’s Day service, which would serve to heap up guilt and place your eyes on the consumer – you. But the opposite, God’s grace, is what motivates church attendance. You’ll only be motivated to put Christ first because you know the truth of His Gospel. That kind of motivation only happens if you’ve put your faith in Christ alone and yielded to His lordship over your life. It only happens if you’ve experienced that truth as the Holy Spirit has changed you from the inside out. It only happens if, increasingly, the greatest desire of your life is no longer other people or other things, but Jesus! And that desire radiates out into all you are and do. It radiates out in your desire to attend worship each Sunday and forsake all else that tugs on your affections. Yes, that means you desire and prioritize it over Sunday sports, leisure and sleeping in. Corporate worship is not only an incredible privilege, but also communing with the saints before the majestic throne of the One who saved you, and called you into His body.

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“Life and Death” – Genesis 35

bible precious word

Life and death is a major theme in Genesis.  God breathed life into Adam and Eve and they chose death.  Eve birthed the first child, Cain, and he murdered his brother Abel.  Genesis chapter 5 catalogs thousands of years of life, followed by death.  Mankind began to multiply on the face of the earth, but the effects of death continued to pervade humans such that “every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.”  Mankind, with the exception of Noah, turned from God in their evil and so he destroyed most all of the life He created in the flood.  And so the story continues through the chapters of Genesis and into our day.  You and I live with the effects of life and death in a fallen, broken, corrupt world every day.

Our passage, this week, is part of a transition into the last section of the book, and it too highlights the effects of life and death on the covenant family of Abraham.  Death, and its effects, rock the world of Jacob, just as it regularly rocks our world.  It’s a not so subtle reminder that we live in bodies of death.  We live in bodies that will perish, but we also live in bodies where the effects of death are at work in our sin, warring against God’s commands through our flesh.  It is precisely these bodies of death that remind us of the preciousness of God’s promises.  This Sunday we’ll take a look at the reality and consequences of God’s promises and the reality and consequences of our sin, and we’ll learn that God provides deliverance from our bodies of death, both now and for eternity.

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“Disgrace” – Genesis 34

Cross of Jesus

We find ourselves at probably the most disgraceful event in the book of Genesis this week.  You really have to scratch your head wondering, “Why does God want us to know this embarrasing event in Israel’s history?”  No one looks good in this story.  There’s no mention of God at all.  He’s grossly absent from the picture.  Why didn’t God just skip chapter 34 of Genesis?  The answer becomes clear when we remind ourselves that Genesis is a book that informs our world view.  Genesis tells us who God is, who we are and about this world we live in.  When you look at this week’s passage in that way, you begin to see that, without the Lord, mankind gravitates toward sin and folly.  You begin to understand not only the difference the Lord makes, but the ultimate necessity of being united to Him through faith.

When you examine what’s happening with the Shechemites and Israelites in this story, you begin to see that you and I are a little bit like them.  Sure, we’re not likely to go to the disgraceful extreme that they did, but we are prone to wander into some of the same root sins that worked to their detriment.  The good news is, God not only wants us to see our condition, but His faithfulness in rescuing us from it, when we turn to Him.  By the grace of God, in Jesus Christ, we are able to see our condition and overcome it.  Grace overcomes disgrace.

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“Reconciled” – Genesis 33:1-20

reconciled cross

20 plus years is a long time for an unresolved conflict.  It is a long time to go without forgiveness and reconciliation.  But it happens all the time.  Maybe you have a relationship that has been damaged or even severed because someone has wronged you or you have wronged that person.  Maybe you both wronged one another.  Maybe you don’t even remember whose fault it was or what started it all.  In any case, it’s not too late for reconcilation.

Jacob, and his brother Esau, had been estranged for over 20 years, but now the day had come when Jacob would face Esau.  God changed Jacob’s heart, extending undeserved grace to a man whose name means “Deceiver,” and now that same grace was pouring through Jacob’s heart, causing him to seek reconciliation with his long estranged brother.  Reconciliation, at its best, is a work of grace.  God can provide that same grace for you, changing not only you, but your ability to forgive and seek reconciliation with others. Even if you don’t have a long unresolved conflict, like Jacob and Esau, God’s grace will still transform your relationships and cause you to depend more and more upon it.

Find out how, as we come together in worship as the body of Christ this Sunday at 10:30.  Sunday school for adults, youth and children is at 9:15.

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Filed under Genesis Sermon Series