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Love, Perfected The Letters of John 1 John 1:5-10 To begin his letter, John builds on a metaphor that is used over 200 times in Scripture, that of light. This example may have been used so extensively because it is easy to understand and relatable for both young and old. I also believe that it is commonly misunderstood. God is light – John tells us…
 
The Practice of Prayer: Part II Psalm 66, Matthew 6 In this miniseries on prayer, we began by looking at the “why” of prayer. We pray because it connects us and grows our relationship with God our Father. This week, we look at the “how” of prayer. We tend to do things because they “work.” We educate our children because we believe it’s important fo…
 
The Practice of Prayer The start of a new year is a natural opportunity to turn the page into something new and fresh. I look forward to beginning our new series going through John’s letters, but before we do that, I’d like to begin the year with a topic fundamental to our faith and essential to the life of our church: prayer. What is prayer? What …
 
Christmas: The Story We Step Into It’s an old, old story, read in churches by candlelight and by families gathered together in their homes. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…” The words travel to us from two thousand years ago, telling the story we’ve heard all our lives. Like an …
 
The Sound of Christmas: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus Christmas was the advent of a Savior. The light of God entered into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Light is needed in darkness. A Savior is needed by all those who cannot save themselves. The necessity of Jesus’ birth should not be difficult to understand from this side of the cross. B…
 
The Sound of Christmas: O Holy Night This week in our advent series on the songs of Christmas, we take a look at O Holy Night. Written in Roquemaure, France in 1847, this song has a rich theology, and reflects the depth of the people and the time in which it was written. It is a song, I would argue, that is primarily about deliverance. The great de…
 
The Sound of Christmas: O Come O Come Emmanuel As someone who grew up in the Christian Church, the thought that God is Emmanuel (God with us) has always seemed so obvious, so normative, that I often forget its uniqueness. The concept of “God with us” is incredibly unique within the religious world. Other gods are not “with” their people; they are r…
 
The Sound of Christmas: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Each week of this Season of Advent, we’ll be looking at a song of Christmas to see where it finds its roots in Scripture. This week, we’ll look at the song Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, which has its foundations in the book of Habakkuk. In a world that seemed to be darkening and the wic…
 
Community Thanksgiving Service Sunday, November 13th 2022 "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We are called to live in gratitude, to give thanks in all circumstances. All people give thanks for good food, for their friends and family, the bea…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 131 & 132 Humility & Obedience A weaned child with its mother – the picture painted for us by Psalm 131. For all the many things we go to the Lord for, and all the prayers we submit to Him for answers, do we often come to Him simply to be in His presence? This psalm or song of humility presents us with our deepest need, to j…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 130 Hope Psalm 130 addresses the reality of the human condition. Humanity does not speak to God as equals on even footing. It is out of the depths that humanity cries out to God. From birth we are in trouble. We are predisposed to selfishness. By nature and by choice we reject the Living God. We owe Him full allegiance yet o…
 
Pastor Aaron Weber gives us a message about Following Jesus. In Matthew 4, Jesus calls some of His first disciples by simply saying "Follow me". While this phrase makes sense on the surface, what did it actually mean to those men, and what does it mean for us to actually "follow Jesus" today? We will dive into Matthew 4:18-22 to see what it looks l…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 129 Perseverance Psalm 129 speaks to perseverance and how a person grows in this virtue. We may think that perseverance grows naturally, either a person perseveres or they don’t survive. But for the believer, perseverance grows not merely through surviving difficult situations and suffering. Perseverance is grown through the…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 128 Blessing What is "the good life"? And where is it found? An assumption can be made that for followers of God to find happiness, we must work harder to attain the good life than someone who can find it their own way. We can believe that the world offers a number of low-hanging fruits, ripe for the plucking, that we must r…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 127 Work Psalm 127 is a picture of work. It asks us some very hard questions about human effort. What role do we play in God’s grand narrative? To what extent is your effort required? We ought to approach this psalm humbly, asking how we may have overstepped our bounds and committed what Hilary of Poitiers called “irreligios…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 126 Joy The desire and pursuit of a fulfilling and joyful life must be one of the few ideals that our world can agree on nearly 100%. The path to joy, however, may be one of the most disagreed upon issues in our world. The paths to joy are numerous and vary greatly. Pleasure as a path to joy suffers from escalating costs and…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 125 Security Who wouldn’t want more security in their life? My mother has always worked in insurance, trying to sell me on any and every plan, so that I could be as secure as possible. She is a very cautious and calculated individual, and I appreciate that about her. I also like to tell her that if I take out a larger life i…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 124 Help “If God hadn’t been for us...” This phrase could well summarize our experience with God! Psalm 123 begins with this thought, that if not for God’s direct intervention, for His choosing to be with us, we would be swallowed alive. The notion that God’s great love expressed through His mercy, prevents us from being con…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 123 Service One of the most interesting observations we find in the Psalms of Ascent are unique perspectives of our relationship with God. In the 123rd psalm, we’re painted a picture of a servant looking to their master. This perspective may be a reason that many unbelievers hold against having faith in God, as they see it a…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 122 Worship What is worship? How does one approach God on a given Sunday morning? In Psalm 122, the Psalmist writes with excitement about entering the house of the Lord. He tells us that his heart “leapt for joy!” What is worship, that it is worthy of proclaiming about our God who guards us from “every evil” (Ps. 121:7)? Wor…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 121/Providence Having grown fed up with the ways of the world, the psalmist now turns to seek help. Where does help come from? When you’re worried, or stressed, disappointed or discoursed, where do you turn? In Psalm 121, the psalmist first lifts his eyes to the mountains, is that where help can come from? Can help truly com…
 
Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 120 Repentance What are the psalms of ascent? They are the fifteen psalms that the Hebrew people would read or sing as they ascended on their thrice-a-year pilgrimages to Jerusalem for their great worship festivals. The ascent to Jerusalem was both literal and metaphorical. Topographically, Jerusalem was the highest city in …
 
What does the kingdom of heaven look like? This could be said to be the central message of Jesus’s teaching while he was here on earth. Jesus considered this topic to be so vast that he told parable after parable about it, grasping for images, stories, and metaphor to describe it. So if we are to be truly students of the savior, let us continue to …
 
Students of the Savior: The Kingdom of Heaven is Like Matthew 13:24-43 The next three parables of Jesus in Matthew thirteen describe for us what the kingdom of heaven is like. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is a phrase used by Matthew over 30 times! The introduction of both John the Baptist's and Jesus' ministries begin with the proclamation "Repen…
 
Students of the Savior: Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:1-23 This week, as we return to our study of Jesus' early ministry in the book of Matthew, we turn to chapter thirteen. Here we find a series of parables explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. In this first parable, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who went out to plant seeds. He plan…
 
Students of the Savior: Lord of the Sabbath: Part 2 Matthew 12:1-14 As we continue to explore the purpose and place of rest, we now turn to the New Testament. Jesus’ own practices often confused and confounded those who followed Him. In the midst of great success, He would pull away from the crowds for quiet time with the Father. And we know that J…
 
Students of the Savior: Lord of the Sabbath Matthew 12:1-14 At long last, we have the opportunity to explore the God-given command to rest. Here in the first section of chapter twelve, Jesus is confronted for supposedly breaking sabbath laws. Jesus seems to address the command to rest in a unique way, saying that it is “lawful to do good on the sab…
 
Students of the Savior: Hidden Things Revealed Matthew 11 Matthew chapter eleven helps us to answer the question, “To whom is Christ revealed?” When John the Baptist was preaching a message of repentance in the wilderness, people did not come to him because he wore fine clothes, but because he was a prophet that spoke a truth they couldn’t deny. Je…
 
Students of the Savior: Sent Out Matthew 10 Having witnessed many miracles and having seen the tender compassion of the Lord firsthand, Jesus now sends the disciples out. They are told to take nothing extra with them, for God would provide for them. Jesus’ command for them is for all who follow Him to be “like” Him. In this chapter we will find a n…
 
Students of the Savior: Mercy, not Sacrifice Matthew 9:9-38 In Matthew nine, we find Jesus showing kindness after kindness. He raises a girl from the dead, heals a woman who had suffered for twelve years, and restores the blind and the mute. As Jesus sees the brokenness of humanity He is moved to compassion. With people far from God who declare the…
 
Students of the Savior: Committed Matthew 8:18-34 As we continue to follow Christ’s early ministry and teachings, we come to a challenging section in the second half of Matthew 8. We find Jesus essentially turning away two potential disciples who come to Him, we see Him in the midst of a storm, and watch Him as He restores two violent, demon-posses…
 
Students of the Savior: Not Just Words Matthew 8:1-17 Join us this Sunday at Whispering Pines Church as we celebrate Mother’s Day, and continue on in our study of Christ’s teachings in Matthew 8. After preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus applies His teaching by showing compassion on members of the most marginalized groups of His culture; leper…
 
Students of the Savior: The Narrow Road Matthew 7:13-29 When hiking in the woods you may come to a fork in your path. As you consider which trail to take, you may consider a number of factors. Does one trail seem to be more difficult? Where will each trail lead? It may take a great deal of time to decide, but to move forward, a choice must be made.…
 
Students of the Savior: The Cost of Compassion Matthew 7:1-12 I’m sure that all of us have had a splinter at one time or another. I hated splinters as a child. They were painful, and even though I knew a splinter would have to be removed or it would become infected, I often resisted. At the same time, if my younger sister got a splinter I would be …
 
Palm Sunday Matthew 21 The people were ecstatic! They shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David;Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the King of Israel!” They laid down palm branches and their cloaks on the ground before Him. Their King had finally come! Only days later, this King was hung on a cross. Their longed-for Messiah was…
 
Students of the Savior Matthew 6:19-34 Trust For the remainder of Matthew 6, Jesus turns to address our personal interior lives. Jesus raises the issue of greed and hoarding wealth among the people of God. These are not new issues, but in our modern world, they are often viewed as virtuous. Christ is bold and clear on this point, “No one can serve …
 
Students of the Savior Matthew 6:1-18 Giving, Fasting, and Prayer In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus questions our motivation for three common expressions of our faith: giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. These response to God can become stale, mundane and ordinary. Christ directs us to love God with these essential practices in a way that is rewarding …
 
Students of the Savior: Matthew 5:38-48 Loving Enemies In the final eleven verses of Matthew chapter five, Jesus presents His most countercultural commands. Here He speaks of not resisting an evil person (v. 39), and of loving our enemies (v. 44). Jesus' heart, even for enemies and those far from the truth is revealed in these passages. This missio…
 
As we continue to make our way through Christ's Sermon on the Mount, we come next to a challenging passage where Christ affirms that He has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Through the rest of Matthew 5, we do not find Jesus lowering the moral bar for humanity, but raising it. There will be no prize for abstaining from murder, now Je…
 
Matthew 5:13-16 It would be hard to imagine a lightless and tasteless world. Thankfully God gave us all we needed to enjoy good food and the beauty of His creation. We call those elements salt and light. For difficult times when the world seems broken, dark and flavorless, God gives the world what it needs. We call those elements, Christians. Come …
 
Students of the Savior: The Beatitudes Jesus’ first public address was not to kings or dignitaries, but to ordinary people like you and I. He delivered good news to all the people, that there was hope for the left out and left behind. The poor, the mourning, the broken, were being beckoned by God. The message Jesus brought in this first talk was co…
 
Ekklesia: The Lord - Part 2 Matthew 13, John 16 In our last week of our study of expectations, we’ll look at what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, expects of us. Obviously, this is once again a topic that could be nearly endless is scope. Indeed, Christ has great hopes and plans for us. We’ll focus this week on what Jesus has to say in Matthew 13 and …
 
Join us this week as we continue to explore our expectations by looking at the very heart of Christ. Throughout the four gospels, there is only one place where Christ explicitly speaks of His own heart, Matthew 11. How we understand Christ will determine what we believe it looks like to follow Him. Is Christ a warrior or a rabbi? Quiet or loud? Joi…
 
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