FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
“The way we come to God is the same way that God comes to us. God comes to us in Jesus; we come to God in Jesus. It is the same way, the Jesus way." – Eugene Peterson
If you are looking for something to read as we enter into advent this week, here is another devotional to check out.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 6:35, 48, 51
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus - Advent
All Things New - Advent
Jesus is Our Great Salvation - Grace
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! - Response
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
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 Zephaniah.
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)
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shodows put to flight
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess that we do not live up to the family name. We are more ready to resent than to forgive, more ready to manipulate than to serve, more ready to fear than to love, more ready to keep our distance than to welcome, more ready to compete than to help. At the root of this behavior is mistrust and self-love. We do not love one another as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do. Forgive us our cold unbelief. Show us what it cost you to give up your Son that we might become your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our only righteousness. Amen.
Words of Grace
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – John 13:33 - 14:11
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
What do we need to trust God's plans?
1. What we think we need
a. Peter - Influence
b. Thomas - Knowledge
c. Philip - Experience
2. What God provides
Sermon Reflection - Matt Clegg, Assistant Pastor
Many of us know the stress of having to follow someone else’s plan when that plan does not make sense. We all have different ways of coping with that kind of stress. To put it in a real life circumstance, most of us at one point or another have been lost on a road trip where the driver did not seem to be able to get us where we wanted to go. Some of us coped with that stress by kicking the driver out of the driver’s seat so that we could drive ourselves. Others of us wanted to look at the map to gain more knowledge about where we were. Still others of us wanted to pull off the road to ask a local for help. We all have our own ways of navigating through life. We follow others’ plans really well when they make sense to us. However, the more their plans cease to make sense, the more we depend on our own pet ways instead. This is true in all of life, but especially when it comes to following God’s plan for our lives. It does not take much life experience at all to know that God’s plan is often very confusing, and sometimes quite painful. This invites us to ask a very important question about ourselves. What do we need to trust God’s plan when it does not make sense?
In John 13:33 – 14:11, Jesus’s disciples are confused by His plan. They have been expecting to be with Jesus until He brings His kingdom to earth. However, Jesus confuses them when he says that He is about to leave them alone for a time. What we see in this passage is His disciples’ grappling with the stress of Jesus’s confusing plan. Therefore, we get to see what Jesus’s disciples think they need to follow God’s plan.
Peter wants to stay with Jesus until the end and even lay His life down for Jesus. It is clear that Peter thinks he needs influence on God’s plan if He is to trust Him. Many of us are like Peter in that we feel most comfortable when we can exert our influence on our problems. We tend to be capable people who navigate life best when we take action, and feel very uncomfortable waiting on others to do the job right. However, as Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Jesus three times rather than lay down his life, we see that it only takes the right set of circumstances for even the most committed to do more harm than good.
Thomas wants knowledge if he is to trust Jesus. He wants to know where Jesus is going and how he is going to get there. Many of us are like this as well. We want Jesus to tell us exactly what to do in every situation, what house to buy, where to send our kids to school, who to marry, and so much more. We also want Him to settle all the mysteries of life for us if we are to feel safe believing in Him. However, just like with Peter, Jesus does not give Thomas what he wants in the way he wants it.
Lastly, Philip wants a meaningful experience with God. He wants Jesus to show him the Father one time and thinks that will be enough to carry him through the confusing times. Many of us are like Philip. We want a strong experience with God in order to trust Him. We want a dramatic conversion, we want God to speak with us, and we want Him to comfort us in a supernatural way. However, Jesus does not give Philip the experience he wants either. Jesus knows that no experience will be able to carry Philip through what is to come, just like a great wedding is not enough to ensure a successful marriage.
If Jesus does not give the disciples what they think they need to trust in His plan, what does He give them instead? In every case, Jesus does not give them what they want, but gives them more than they can possibly imagine. This is because in every case Jesus gives the disciples Himself. Where Peter is afraid to wait and let someone else get the job done without his own influence, Jesus successfully lays down His life for Peter, providing a bridge to God Himself. Where Thomas wants more knowledge about where to go, Jesus provides Himself instead. He says in the famous statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life." The only way Thomas will get where Jesus is going is if Jesus carries Him, and that is exactly what Jesus came to do. Where Philip wants an experience with the Father, Jesus gives Him a lifetime of intimacy within the Holy Trinity instead. Jesus renders the statement true, “In Jesus, I seldom get what I want, but I always get more than I can possibly imagine.”
Just like the disciples, we are all challenged by this passage to trust in God’s plan because He has given us Jesus. No matter what confusion arises in life, Jesus came to us as a little baby so that He could always be right there with us. The gospel is not a formula, but a person who loves us dearly, and delights to commune with us. This leaves tremendous room for life to be confusing, because He did not come to make it all make sense in the way we want. He came so He would always be with us, so we would always be with Him, so He would always love us, and so He could carry us home. The challenge to us is to believe that this is true, and allow ourselves to commune with Him even in the midst of the confusion. If we are to return to the vehicle metaphor, we can picture ourselves as a little kid sitting in the back seat of the care. We don’t need to drive, see a map, or stop and ask for help. We only need to know that our dad is driving that car. Jesus certainly gives us a part to play, gives us truth to know, and gives us meaningful experiences with Him. However, this Advent season, it is worth reflecting on what it is all about. Jesus loves his people, and He came to carry us.
Sermon Reflection Questions
- What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- Which character in the passage do you most resonate with?
- What do you most need God to give you in order to trust Him?
- How would you describe the bad news of this passage? And the good news?
- What difference does it make that God gives us the person of Jesus instead of what we want?
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.