Keep Running

Pastor Jonathan brings to us an inspiring message, “Keep Running,” from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Paul describes four ways to not lose heart when we face trials and disappointments.

  • Renew the inner self.
  • Re-frame the suffering.
  • Refocus on the invisible.
  • Remember the mission.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is something disappointing or discouraging that you have experienced?
  • How can thinking about being with God forever change the way you think about hard things in life?
  • What is one thing you can do to help you love Jesus more?


The Pursuit of Holiness

Pastor Jay continues his sermon series, Be Encouraged, Brothers with “The Pursuit of Holiness,” from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (ESV)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

The genuine believer in Christ must pursue sanctification.

  • This is urgent.
  • This pleases God.
  • This is progressive.
  • This is God’s will.
  • This does have something to say about sex.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is a video game or other type of game you play that you’re good at?
  • How did you get to be good at that game?
  • What happens if you stop playing the game for a year? What would happen if you stopped praying for a year?
  • How does spending time with God regularly make us more like Christ?


Is there a difference between righteousness and uprightness?

Roy asks:
In Psalm nine verse eight there are two words used for God’s judgment: righteousness and uprightness. Are they the same word? If not, what is the difference?

On first blush, as I read Psalm 9:8, I think I’m seeing a case of synonymous parallelism. The Psalms are mostly written in a kind of poetic form that rhymed thoughts rather than sounds.

If I said, “My wife is my treasure; she is my everything,” that would be an example where the force of the thought and emotion is conveyed by pairing nearly identical phrases.

But, of course, there is a difference between one word and another. Rarely do you have two that are absolutely interchangeable. Treasure is not the same as everything and in your example; righteousness is not the exact same thing as uprightness.

Uprightness, Hebrew mayshar, comes from the concept of something that is level, smooth, straight or even. Justice is level in that there is nothing crooked or lacking virtue to corrupt righteousness. Justice is straight in that it does not bend to suit its predilections.

Righteousness, Hebrew tsedeq, relates to that which is right, just and fair. Getting justice in a court or by a just scale comes into play. The NIV, for instance, chooses to translate it “justice.” It is always holding fairly to the right standard. God’s law and character are the standard of his righteousness.

As I looked at various instances of the word these distinctions seemed to hold up. We could say that a righteous and upright judge are the same person but that righteous would express that he fairly upholds the law and uprightness implies that he will do so with complete integrity. He cannot be corrupted. He cannot be bent by money or power.

After coming to these conclusions, I found this article that asks your question. I think it is worth checking out.

Pastor Jay

Prayer for Love in the Church

Pastor Jay continues his sermon series, Be Encouraged, Brothers with “Prayer for Love in the Church,” from 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13.

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (ESV)

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Pray for love in the church.

  • Pray for opportunity.
  • Pray for more.
  • Pray for love’s end*.*An outcome worked toward, especially with forethought and deliberate planning and organized effort.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What’s something you really love?
  • How would you describe love to someone?
  • Why is it so important for Christians to love each other?
  • What is one way you can show love for another Christian this week?


Caring for the Faith of Our People

Pastor Jay resumes his sermon series, Be Encouraged, Brothers with “Caring for the Faith of Our People,” from 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (ESV)

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

As believers we care deeply for the health of our people’s faith.

  • It is good news when they are in the faith.
  • It comforts us when they are in the faith.
  • It makes us feel alive when they are in the faith.
  • It is joy with thanksgiving when they are in the faith.
  • It is evidenced by love when they are in the faith.
  • It is no excuse to grow negligent when they are in the faith.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Have you ever watched a movie that made you sad? What was it? Why did it make you sad?
  • When you see someone having a hard time, does that make you sad?
  • When you see a Christian friend struggle in life, does that make you want to help them?
  • Think of a Christian friend who needs help. What is one thing you can do this week to help them?

May I Have Your…

robins3The beginning of the year is often a time when we think about our resources and how to allocate them in the months to come. Budgets are created and schedules are set. Family vacations are planned. The wise understand that time and money are limited, so we must carefully consider how we spend them in order to accomplish our goals.

However, there is another precious resource that we often overlook, which is uniquely scarce in our modern age. The following is a description of the problem, written by a Carnegie-Mellon professor in 1971:

“A rabbit-rich world is a lettuce-poor world, and vice-versa… In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
– Herbert Simon, Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World, 1971

In a world where personal computers were just starting to be imagined and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were still decades away, Herbert Simon identified one of the main challenges of having so much information available at our fingertips: preserving our ability to give deep attention to any one thing. We nibble at this and that–scanning a news story, checking social media, a round of the latest smartphone game–and fritter away our attention in the process. It becomes increasingly difficult to give focused attention to anything. It’s like we are eating a Hershey’s KISS every 5 minutes, and so never get hungry for steak and potatoes.

But friend, the real spiritual nourishment is to be found as we give our focused attention to God’s word and to seeking him in prayer. This is the kind of attention that describes the blessed man in Psalm 1:2, “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Or consider these verses from Psalm 119:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
   By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
   let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
   that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
   teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
   all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies
   I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
   and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
   I will not forget your word.
Psalm 119:9-16 (ESV)

Did you read those verses? Or did you scan through them in order to get to the next paragraph of text? Go back and read it again, and look at the kind of attention that is being described. This is something that we have nearly forgotten how to achieve. Instead, we too often hurry through our daily Bible reading, pausing to check our phone when it beeps or to send that quick text message. We give God just a bit of our attention, enough to check off our “spiritual” box for the day, before we get on to more “important” matters. Brothers, this should not be!

We must be aware that our attention is precious and powerful. If we do not make plans for how we will allocate it, we will find that it has slipped away to a thousand small pursuits. Let’s resolve to resist that pull in 2015. Take whatever steps are needed to cultivate focused time in the word and prayer. It is what our attention-deficit souls are truly hungry for.