FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions. Did anything land with you during worship? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
If you will enter into the suffering of people, you will be entering darkness. Such darkness would overwhelm and lead to despair were there not a treasure there. The treasure in the darkness is the Crucified Christ. He who can sympathize is there. He who knows anguish is there. He who has felt tormented, abandoned, unheard, and crushed waits there in the darkness. To enter into the fellowship of his sufferings is to find him. – Diane Langberg, Suffering and the Heart of God
Timothy is called to share in suffering for the gospel because only there is the saving grace of God made clear as it retells and explains the life and death of Christ. – William Mounce, Pastoral Epistles
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Genesis 38
Note: Over the next 5 weeks through Advent and Christmas we are going to look at the 5 women of Christmas from Matthew's genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1. Who were these women? Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab (Joshua 2), Ruth (Ruth 1-4), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), and Mary (Matthew 1). Why does Matthew include these women in Jesus' genealogy? That's the question we will be trying to answer as we listen in on the story Matthew is telling us about Jesus who came to save his people from their sins (Mt. 1:21).
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus - Advent
Come, O Come Thou Quickening Spirit - Confession
Jesus is Our Great Salvation - Grace
Come Light Our Hearts - Response
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence - Communion
Whether Advent and Christmas is a season you look forward to or dread, it inevitably provokes the most fundamental of questions. What is it all about? What is the true meaning of Christmas? Let me suggest to you this brief and readable little book to help you go back to the basics of the Christian message and the good news about the coming of Jesus.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Arise My Soul Arise
Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice,
in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
Arise, my soul, arise.
Shake off your guilty fears and rise.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, we humbly confess our need of your pardoning grace. We shelter arrogance and pride in our hearts and believe that our efforts are good enough to secure what only you can give us. We are quick to judge and grumble when our plans, pleasures, and preferences are threatened. We are slow to offer mercy, both inwardly and outwardly, towards those people you have placed in our lives and called us to love. Forgive our self-righteousness and our self-absorption. Fix our eyes on our savior, Jesus Christ, that we may become enraptured with Him, for it’s in his name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Hearing From God (2 Timothy 1:8-12)
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 1:8-12
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
- The Cost of Love
- Through a Conflict of Loves
- With a Companion who Loves us
Suffering is a universal sensation whereby human beings know that something is wrong. It is natural when we experience suffering in a particular area of our lives that we question whether we are on the right path. We wonder whether there is another path that will take us where we want to go more safely. In light of this, it is odd that Paul would instruct Timothy in v.8 to share with him in suffering for the gospel. How can suffering be a good thing for Timothy? How can it be a good thing for us? In order to answer these questions, we ask three other questions of this text: “What is suffering here,” “why is it necessary,” and “how can we do it?”.
First, when we look closely we find that suffering in this passage is the Cost of Love. Jesus’ love for a rebellious world was brought to light through His life, death, and resurrection (v.10b). Paul was then commissioned to spread this light to those who had never seen it (v.11). However, just as Jesus’ love was demonstrated through great cost to Himself, Paul’s calling also came with a cost. Not only was he sent to prison for upsetting political stability, he also lost all social honor in the process. Therefore, the suffering discussed in this passage is not general suffering that comes from living in a broken world. It is the suffering that comes from giving up one’s own self-interest for the sakes of others.
Though few of us have callings like Paul and Timothy, there are many spheres in which we are called to love others at a cost. To hold biblical convictions on issues like Biblical authority or final judgment is to be misunderstood by our culture. However, it is only loving that God’s truth be made visible to a world greatly struggling with its identity. Costly love also comes with raising kids, where time, energy, sleep, and hobbies have to be sacrificed. It comes with caring for an aging parent, or putting up with someone who is difficult to work with. It might involve sitting in the sufferings of others. It could even look like forgiveness, telling the truth, or admitting that we are wrong. It is important to remember, however, that Christ is the one who paid the ultimate cost for us. We will never be able to love others to the extent that He did. Rather than become discouraged at our inability to suffer much, it is better to be reminded that Christ did what we could not. We can rest in the security that His suffering for us provides, and then imitate His love as if it is now our family business.
Second, we may want to ask here why suffering is necessary in following Christ. If He really loved us, would He not have called us to walk a different path? This passage answers this question by illustrating a Conflict of Loves.There are two paths indicated in these verses. The first is the easy, or downhill path, characterized by a love of our own works and purposes (v.9). It is also characterized by a love of human power. Caesar’s coronation, where he was displayed as a semi-divine being, was called his “appearing” (v.10). Caesar was a symbol of human power, as well as a promise of prosperity for the culture. However, following this path would only result in death. The second path, however, is the more difficult, or uphill path. It is characterized by a love of Christ’s purposes and grace (v.9), and His “appearing” (v.10) as the true power of the universe. Though this path involves suffering, it ends in life. These paths are in conflict with each other, and it often seems like the easier path is best. However, Christ’s work gives us a view of the end of each path. Only His path will not disappoint.
There are many ways we choose the easier path everyday. Idolizing materialism, pleasure, or political power are easy examples. However, there are other ways that can be more deceptive. Many of us hate suffering, and avoid it at all costs. We even avoid the sufferings of others because they only remind us of the sad possibilities in this world. We do our religious duties and retreat to our happy places. Others of us, however, embrace suffering thinking that we have embraced authentic spirituality. We look down on those who love their comforts, and we feel secure in the fact that we have given up much for the sake of Jesus. However, both of these paths put their faith in man’s work and purposes. Christ’s path involves full submission to His purposes and grace for us. It can feel vulnerable when we are fully at Christ’s mercy to allow whatever, whenever into our lives. However, we have the promise here that His path leads to life in the end.
Finally, we need to ask how we get the strength to share in Christ’s sufferings. Merely knowing that suffering with Jesus ultimately leads to life is often not enough to motivate us to do it. Paul’s answer is that we also have aCompanion who Loves us. In v.12, Paul says that He is able to suffer because he knows “whom” he has believed. He goes on to say that he is convinced that the one he believes in will guard Him all the way until the end. V.8 also startlingly points out that Paul considers himself Christ’s prisoner, and not Rome’s. The full effect of this personal language is that Paul suffers in close relationship with Christ. He is not left alone with a knowledge of the end, he goes forward on his path with Christ as his close companion. The one who suffered for Paul with a costly love, through a deadly conflict of loves, is the one who will never leave him until the end of the path.
Knowing that we have a companion to help us along the way is a powerful sign that we are on the right path. Some of us feel discouraged by our own struggle to accept the cost of loving others. We feel that our selfishness and self-protectiveness is too strong to overcome. The good news is that we do not go alone. It is Christ’s purposes that will prevail, and He is with us. Others of us don’t want to accept the cost of selfless love. We are strongly skeptical of the wisdom of the harder path. However, this passage tells us that the harder path is where Christ is. It is the path where the joy of Christ is on offer for us.
How do we know if we are on the right path? According to this passage, we know we are on the right path if we are walking with Jesus: imitating His Cost of Love, through a Conflict of Loves, and right next to Him as ourCompanion who Loves us very much.
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- Where in your own life are you most tempted to look for an easier path, rather than follow the harder path of costly love?
- Does it make you uncomfortable that the God who loves you would call you to love others at a cost to yourself?
- What difference does it make for you that Jesus is with you every day?
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that does administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.