FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
“Once for all, then, a short precept is given you: Love, and do what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace, whether you cry out, through love cry out, whether you correct, through love correct, whether you spare, through love do you spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.”
As I have mentioned before, knowing how to speak about our nation's political situation from a Gospel centered perspective is fraught with challenges. Therefore, I am thankful for others much smarter than I who venture to describe and offer analysis of our time. I found this piece by David Brooks a penetrating and candid assessment of our political climate. I offer it to you as food for thought and nothing more. As a follower of Jesus and a pastor, I am convinced that the scriptures don't commit me to any particular political party and Christians are free to vote as their conscience dictates informed by the Word of God.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 8:12; 9:5
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus - Advent
O Come All Ye Faithful - Christmas
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing - Christmas
Silent Night - Response
What Child is This? - Communion
Joy to the World - Christmas
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of Malachi.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may findthis approach and this app helpful.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
There's A Wideness in God's Mercy
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man's mind
And the heart of the eternal
Is most wonderfully kind
If our love were but more faithful
We should take Him at His word
And our life would be thanksgiving
For the goodness of the Lord
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, your love brings life to dead souls, light to darkened minds, and strength to weak wills. Depending on our own strength we stumble; proclaiming our own goodness we sin; glorying in our own righteousness we corrupt everything we touch; indulging in self-pity we blind ourselves to the needs of those around us. Help us to believe and trust that no wrong we have done, and no good we have failed to do, is too great for you to forgive through the merits of Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Words of Grace
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - John 15:1-17
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Who are the people of God?
1. Why are the people of God hard to recognize?
2. Who are the people of God really?
3. How can anyone be part of the people of God?
Sermon Reflection Questions
- What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What would a fruitful life look like according to this passage? What is the fruit?
- Where does all fruit come from?
- What does it mean to abide in Jesus?
Confession of Faith: The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried:
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.