Lessons From The Main Event

Pastor Jon leads this weeks sermon with “Lessons From The Main Event”, from 1 Kings 18:1-40

1 Kings 18:1-40 (ESV)

Elijah and Obadiah

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another. As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’” “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!” Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

Elijah on Mount Carmel

So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

Recognizing God’s presence/prodding in the past is key to our future. 

  • 1. Having skin in the game makes a huge impact on others.
  • 2. What is our response to spiritual criticism?
  • 3. Our motives must never be selfish.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • When have you or your family seen God do something incredible?
  • How does seeing that help you to trust God more in the future?
  • What does it mean when you hear “Learn from your past”?

New City Catechism – Week 26

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Read our weekly blog below. Here are other resources related to this week’s question:

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“All Creatures of Our God and King”
(Hymn #11 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q26: What else does Christ’s death redeem?

A26: Christ’s death is the beginning of the redemption and renewal of every part of fallen creation, as he powerfully directs all things for his own glory and creation’s good.

Most of the time, when we think about the benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are focused on our eternal salvation. This makes sense, because the condition of our eternal soul is an important concern. Whether we spend eternity in heaven or hell should matter more than anything else.

However, there is another aspect of Christ’s redemption that we shouldn’t forget. To understand that, we first need to understand the nature of the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, humanity was affected. The Bible says that “death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12), and all humans now have a corrupted nature—we are sinners by “nature and choice” as the EFCA statement of faith says. That is what we usually focus on when we talk about the fall.

But there is more. Not just humanity, but all of creation was affected by the fall. The death and corruption that was unleashed into the world had cosmic implications. What was created good was now spoiled. Romans 8:22 puts it this way, “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” We now observe a fallen world with natural disasters, death, predation and scarcity. Groaning.

The good news is that just as God made a way for humans to be reconciled to him through Christ, he is also powerfully working to restore his creation. C. S. Lewis expresses this concept in his book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when he writes that “death itself [starts] working backwards.”

God’s plans for his creation are ultimately good plans. The earth is not simply disposable, and when we exercise good stewardship of creation we express our faith in that fact. Eventually, God will make all things new (Revelation 21:5), in a glorious new heaven and new earth. We will live with him, experiencing the fullness of God’s good creation, no longer fallen, but redeemed through Jesus Christ. Let’s anticipate that day with constant expectancy and hope.

-Pastor Jonathan

The Good Portion

Pastor Jonathan leads this weeks sermon with “The Good Portion”, from Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

At the Home of Martha and Mary

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

See Jesus as your spiritual “good portion.”

  • Contrasting Attitudes
    • Distracted vs. Listening
    • Busy vs. Calm
    • Bitter vs. Satisfied
    • Anxious & Troubles vs. Abiding & Trusting
    • Temporal Concern vs. Eternal Concern
  • Summary: Turn from self and turn to Jesus Christ as your good portion.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What are some of the things that distract you from time with God?
  • Why do we get frustrated with other people when our plans don’t work out?
  • What kind of attitude shows that we are trusting God’s plans for us?
  • What can you do this week to focus on your relationship with Christ?

New City Catechism – Week 25

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“His Mercy is More”
(by Matt Boswell & Matt Papa)
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Q25: Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?

A25: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.

I need to get something off my chest: the statement “It’s better to give than to receive” never really made sense to me. On one level, it does. I think most people enjoy giving to others and knowing it meets a need or a desire. However, I really like getting stuff too! I realize that makes me sound selfish, but before you rush to judgment, make sure there isn’t something inside you that might agree with me a little.

The best presents are the ones you didn’t expect or really even deserve. I can still remember fondly when my father bought an army figure I had begged him for. The local hardware store used to sell a few of them, and they carried one specific one I hadn’t seen at any other stores. I tried to explain (as an eight year old) how rare that figure was and how valuable that made it. None of my friends had it, so I would also be the envy of them.

I think I finally broke him down and out of the blue, he came home with it one day. It’s weird how those little things stick in our minds through so many years. I can recall there was nothing special about that day. I hadn’t done any extra chores. I didn’t express my love for my parents anymore that day than usual. And we didn’t even have a dog that I could have walked. He just came home with it and smiled as he handed me the bag.

The unexpected or undeserved gift is not a foreign concept to a follower of Christ. Paul makes it very clear in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Christ’s sacrifice is an all-encompassing gift from God. It was nothing we deserved. In fact, we deserve quite the opposite. Paul emphasizes that point in Romans 5. In our helpless and completely sinful state, Christ died for our sins.

This gift extends to even the vilest of offenders. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. Even the most godly among us, though, must never take advantage of the grace of God. We’re reminded this week of how complete Christ’s death was. It covered all sins. It’s a gift we don’t deserve.

-Pastor Jon

Falling Forward

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “Falling Forward” from Hebrews 13:18-24.

Hebrews 13:18-24 (ESV)

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Benediction and Final Greetings

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. Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.

Christ is superior to all, so fall forward to glory.

  • Pray for your leader.
  • Prepare for doing every possible good.
    • Look to the God of Peace.
    • Look to the great shepherd of the sheep.
    • Look to the blood of the covenant.
  • Put up with reasonable preaching.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What are some responsibilities of shepherds and farmers?
  • Who is superior to all?
  • Who and what are we to look to according to today’s sermon?
  • Why should we pray and listen to our leaders?

New City Catechism – Week 24

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“I Will Glory in My Redeemer”
(Hymn #196 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q24: Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?

A24: Since death is the punishment for sin, Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God. By his substitutionary atoning death, he alone redeems us from hell and gains for us forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and everlasting life.

Why did Jesus have to die? Many people have asked that question over the last two thousand years. Some people try to explain away the resurrection by saying Jesus only appeared to die (often called the “swoon theory,”) but the evidence is clear: Jesus Christ was executed by the Romans by crucifixion, and before they took him off the cross, he was dead.

But why? Was he simply caught up in political circumstances? Was he misunderstood as a revolutionary and executed by mistake? No, the Bible is clear that the Messiah would suffer and die. Paul explained this to the Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-3), Philip tied Jesus’ suffering to Isaiah 53 with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-35). And the resurrected Jesus himself explained the necessity of his death to his disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:26).

The reason for all of this can be summed up in a good theological phrase: “penal substitutionary atonement”. Our catechism this week unpacks the meaning of that phrase. First of all: penal means that his death was punishment for sin. Romans 6:23 reminds us that the “wages of sin is death,” and Christ bore that punishment through his own death.

Secondly, the word substitutionary means that Christ’s death was in our place. The death that he received was the death that we deserve because of our sin. Because he satisfied that penalty and paid for our sins completely, we are no longer under God’s wrath. The word “atonement” means that because of Christ’s work, we are now reconciled to God—we are no longer his enemies.

All these big theological concepts may be hard to grasp, but at their root they bring good news to us. It’s news of forgiveness, righteousness and everlasting life. Jesus has set us free. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are saved from the righteous wrath of God (Romans 5:9). Let that truth sink into your heart, and your heart will sing the truth of this week’s hymn: “I will glory in my Redeemer!”

-Pastor Jonathan

Respecting Church Leaders

Pastor Jay continues the series on Hebrews with this week’s sermon “Respecting Church Leaders” from Hebrews 13:7 & 17.

Hebrews 13:7 & 17 (ESV)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

God intends that Christians in the church should respect their leaders.

  • Understand what makes a true Christian leader.
    • As those who do the work of evangelism.
    • As those who do the work of discipleship.
    • As those who are living examples.
    • As those who are troubled for men’s souls.
    • As those who are consciously accountable to God.
  • Understand what obedience and submission mean.
    • Submit when they preach the word to you.
    • Submit when they exhort and admonish you for the sake of your soul.
    • Submit when they direct the affairs of the church.
  • Understand how you should treat your Christian leaders.
    • Consider their lives and faith and imitate what is worthy.
    • Make their ministry a joy and not a matter of groaning.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about a time when you have had to respect someone in authority over you.
  • What makes a true Christian leader? Who are they accountable to?
  • What does it mean to be obedient and submit to our Christian leaders? Who calls us to do this?
  • How are we called to treat our Christian leaders?

New City Catechism – Week 23

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“Jesus Paid it All”
(Hymn #281 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?

A23: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

We confess that Jesus is truly man and truly God. This is the most concise way of stating the nature of our redeemer. When we speak rightly of our redeemer, we cannot diminish either of those truths.

Last week we looked at the reasons Christ had to be man. Only a man could properly represent man. As Adam represented man and brought us into sin, so only a man could represent man in order to redeem Adam’s helpless race.

But why, if this is the case, did Jesus also have to be truly God? Wayne Grudem does a great job of answering this paradox.

“(1) Only someone who is infinite God could bear the full penalty for all the sins of all those who would believe in him—any finite creature would have been incapable of bearing that penalty; (2) salvations is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9 NASB), and the whole message of Scripture is designed to show that no human being, no creature, could ever save man—only God himself could…” (Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, p. 553)

Anselm of Canterbury centuries ago said this, “…it could not have been done unless man paid what was owing to God for Sin. But the debt was so great that, while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.” Man must pay, but only God can.

The gospel of sin’s defeat in Christ required not only death for sin, but also resurrection from the dead. No man could have defeated death unless he was both fully man and fully God.

Whether we truly grasp it, we will be eternally grateful that Jesus Christ was a perfect redeemer. He did what no other person could ever have done.

-Pastor Jay