Peace vs. Fear and Worry

Pastor Jay continues the series on Owning His Peace, with this week’s sermon “Peace vs. Fear and Worry” from Matthew 6:25-34.

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

To own the peace of Christ we have to deal with our fears by confidently laying hold of him.

  • Lay hold of Christ when dealing with fear of calamity.
  • Lay hold of Christ when dealing with fear of the unknown.
  • Lay hold of Christ when dealing with fear of deprivation.
  • Lay hold of Christ when dealing with fear of incompletion.
  • Lay hold of Christ when dealing with fear of man.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is the difference between fear and worry? How are they the same and how are they different?
  • How does fear or worry harm the peace of Christ in your heart and mind?
  • What reason does the Bible give us for not fearing evil?
  • What fears or worries bother you the most?
  • What does it mean ti lay hold of Christ?

New City Catechism – Week 35

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Worship Guide
“O Great God”
(Hymn #35 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q35:  Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, where does this faith come from?

A35:  All the gifts we receive from Christ we receive through the Holy Spirit, including faith itself.

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride, which has a classic scene where people must determine the status of Westley, a main character who has died. The question is whether Westley is only “mostly dead” (with some hope he can be brought back to life) or “all dead” (no chance). Even though the movie is 30 years old, I won’t give away the answer to spoil it for you.

There is a parallel as we think about salvation. The question is: what was the status of our souls before we were saved? Or you could think of it this way: how much did the Fall corrupt our nature? In our fallen state, are we only “mostly dead,” with a spark of spiritual life inside us that we needed to nurture and fan into flame, to bring about our salvation?

The Bible is emphatically clear on the answer. Ephesians 2:1 says “you were dead” (and that means all dead). There is nothing a dead man can do towards his own salvation. Without a powerful outside force, one that is powerful enough to overcome even death, that man is without hope.

Bob Kauflin’s hymn “O Great God” says it well:

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys

It was out of that state that we were saved. Titus 3:5 gives a clear statement that the “washing of regeneration” and renewal of our hearts comes only by the Holy Spirit. At one level, this truth can be offensive to our pride (1 Cor 1:18, Gal 5:11). We don’t want to admit that we are unable to please God, because it means we must humble ourselves. Coming to the cross means we must lay down all of our pride, whether it be in status or in achievements.

However, this truth should also cause us to worship. As we look at our salvation in retrospect we come to marvel that God would choose to save us. We do not look down on others because we remember that we were not saved through our own goodness, but through God’s mercy.

And then we conclude with the hymn that God is “worthy to be praised with my every thought and deed.” Let’s bring him our grateful praises for the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit.

-Pastor Jonathan

Matthew 11:16-19

Pastor Jon Kelly preaches a sermon from Matthew 11:16-19.

Matthew 11:16-19 (ESV)

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”


New City Catechism – Week 34

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Worship Guide
“Take My Life and Let it Be”
(Hymn #375 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q34: Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through Christ alone, must we still do good works and obey God’s Word? 

A34: Yes, because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, also renews us by his Spirit; so that our lives may show love and gratitude to God; so that we may be assured of our faith by the fruits; and so that by our godly behavior others may be won to Christ.

I find a certain peace in a trustworthy mechanic. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve found one and utilized them. I’m not a car guy. I like cars, but working on them isn’t a skill I possess. So when I take the car to the mechanic, I enjoy not having to take it back the next day because something isn’t right. When the work is done, it’s done. No one wants to have to take it back because the job wasn’t finished.

In all of history, there has never been a more completed work than when Christ announced from the cross, “It is finished.” There was no more work to be done to conquer sin. Death would be overcome at the resurrection, but sin was completely defeated on that day. There is no need to return to the cross. Christ doesn’t need to die multiple times for sin to be vanquished. It is indeed finished.

It seems logical then to ask the question: Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through Christ alone, must we still do good works and obey God’s Word? The work has been finished. We don’t need to keep sacrificing Christ. Our sins have been forgiven. So why are we still doing good works?

To continue the car example (which admittedly isn’t the best analogy!), not living Christ-like is comparable to intentionally ruining the work the mechanic just did. Granted, we’re not able to actually ruin anything that Christ has accomplished, but godly living shows to others our dedication to Christ and his completed work on the cross. We reveal our love for God when we live for him. Part of this is done through godly living displayed for others to see.

Show others your gratitude for Christ’s work by living for him each day!

-Pastor Jon


Hurried Impatience

Pastor Jay continues the series on Owning His Peace, with this week’s sermon “Hurried Impatience” from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

To own Christ’s peace we must overcome our hurried impatience.

  • To overcome hurried impatience we have to understand it.
  • To overcome impatience we must look to Jesus.
  • To overcome impatience we have to prioritize others.
  • To overcome our impatience we need to discipline ourselves to slow down.
  • To overcome out impatience we may have to kill something.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Why doesn’t the word “impatience” show up in the New Testament?
  • What are other words for impatience?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. What are some aspects of impatience? What does patience look like?
  • How does hurry affect our ability to be patient with others?
  • Where do you see patience in the life of Jesus? Was he hurried?
  • What are some areas where we need to pray and slow down?

New City Catechism – Week 33

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Worship Guide
“Not In Me”
(Hymn #405 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q33: Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?

A33: No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior.

Most of us can probably guess the correct answer to this week’s catechism question. Of course, we shouldn’t seek our salvation in works. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). That is a basic tenant of Christianity, right?

However obvious that answer may seem, it’s one that is hard to grasp in practice. We must get to the point where we understand that we have nothing of value to add to our salvation. It’s not that Jesus contributes 50% and we contribute 50%. It’s not even that he contributes 99.999% and we have one little fraction of a percent. Unless our salvation is found completely, totally, in Christ, it is no salvation at all.

Tim Keller shares a helpful illustration:

Mr. A asked Mr. B to make him a wooden cabinet because Mr. B was a great cabinetmaker. Mr. B and Mr. A were friends, and therefore Mr. B said, “Well, I better make this really good . . . perfect.” So he worked and worked and worked on the cabinet till he got it to the place where it had been buffed and polished to perfection. He brought Mr. A into the workshop to see it, and Mr. A picked up a piece of sandpaper and said, “Let me just add one little stroke.” Mr. B said, “No! It is finished. It’s perfect. And there’s no way to add to it without subtracting from it.”

That’s how it is with our salvation. If we try to add something to it, we take away from the perfect nature of what Jesus Christ did, and it is no longer able to save us. We must come to him in a state of total helplessness.

And I must admit, that is difficult for me. I think it is difficult for many of us. Because we are taught to believe in ourselves, that we can do anything we want to do. Honestly, it’s offensive to my pride to say I don’t contribute to my salvation, and that I must humble myself and accept God’s free gift of salvation (Romans 3:24).

The Christian life is full of commands. We are told in the Bible to sing, pray, read, meditate, give, tell, and go. Yet we must remember that all these actions flow out of our status as children of God. They do not save us. Only Jesus does. And only Jesus keeps us saved by his sustaining grace (2 Tim 1:12, Jude 24). We obey because we are loved. The challenge is to kill the pride that sees our obedience and good works (necessary and expected elements of following Christ) as somehow making us more deserving of salvation. Instead, look to Christ alone, for “all other ground is sinking sand.”

-Pastor Jonathan

Owning His Peace

Pastor Jay starts the series on Owning His Peace, with this week’s sermon “Owning His Peace” from John 14:27.

John 14:27 (ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

We ought to own the peace of Christ.

  • We need to define His peace.
  • We need to see that the absence of peace is a problem.
  • We need to see how desirable His peace is.
  • We need to accept that His peace is the reasonable possession of the Christian.
  • We have to face our problem, not excuse it.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What did Christ say he was leaving to his followers? (John 14:27)
  • Why do we seem to be without it at times?
  • Why do you think we fail to own his peace?
  • When do you most need his peace?
  • What excuses do we make when we don’t have his peace?

New City Catechism – Week 32

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Worship Guide
“Before the Throne of God Above”
(Hymn #187 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q32: What do justification and sanctification mean? 

A32: Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.

Justification and sanctification are related aspects of our salvation in Christ. They may sound complicated, but let’s make it simple.

Justification is related to the word “just” and “justice”. Justification is the act in which God declares us “just”. We are declared righteous.

When you hear the word “sanctified” you may relate it to the word “sanctuary”. The sanctuary is an area of the church that we have set-apart (holy) for the purpose of worshipping God. Sanctification is similar. It is the ongoing work of Christ in us by the Holy Spirit that sets us apart as holy unto God.

Justification is to be declared “just” (righteous and holy).

Sanctification is the process by which holiness shapes how we live.

Justification is instantaneous at the moment of our salvation when we put our faith in Christ.

Sanctification begins from justification onward, and continues progressively throughout our earthly lives.

Justification is by grace through faith. It is a work of God in which we contribute nothing. We are justified entirely through the grace of the gospel of Christ. We do not earn it. We do not deserve it.

Sanctification is also a work of God, but we are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and make every effort in Christ to grow in holiness.

Justification is positional. We have Christ’s righteousness credited to our account.

Sanctification is practical. We see genuine growth in holy living. We are conformed into the image of Christ.

As you see, the words “justification” and “sanctification” are not hard to understand. But understanding their meaning is meaningless if we have not entered the reality of them.

Are you justified? Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ and Him alone for salvation. Are you now a justified sinner?

Are you growing in holiness? Are you growing in conformity with the image of Christ? Every true Christian should see evidence of the ongoing work of sanctification. Every true Christian should give himself or herself over to that process.

Justification and sanctification, though different are paired together. They cannot be separated. If a person claims to be justified, there should be evidence of accompanying sanctification.

Scripture passages concerning justification: Romans 3:23-31; 4:1-5; 5:1, 9, 16, 18; 10:10; 1Cor 6:11, Galatians 2:6; 3:8, 11, Titus 3:7

Scripture concerning sanctification: 1Thess 4:3; 5:23, 1Peter 1:2, 14, Romans 6:11-14, 12:1-2; 8:13, 1Peter 2:2; 2Peter 1:5, 3:18, Philippians 2:13-14.

*Sanctification is also used in some passages to mean that we have been set apart for God to God. When used in this way it is regarded as already accomplished, cf., Acts 26:18, Hebrews 10:10.


-Pastor Jay