Christmas is such a powerful thing that the very word brings to mind many other words: joy, gifts, trees, lights, and maybe even eggnog. Today, let the word Christmas call forth from you another word: miracle. Does that word conjure up images of the waters of the Red Sea parting or Jesus turning water into wine? Good, those are miracles. But they’re nothing compared to the Miracle we celebrate tonight. In fact, those miracles are only possible because of the Miracle of Christmas. We’re glad you’re with us and pray for God to bless your time celebrating the miracle of Christmas.
This Advent we've been asking God to prepare us to celebrate the Miracle of Christmas by teaching us through miracles that led up to Christmas. This weekend it's the miracle of a snake on a pole in Numbers 21. It's one of the more difficult to understand miracles. But Jesus helps us out by referring to it during this ministry. We’re glad you’re with us to better understand the deadly disease that's killing us and the miraculous healing Christmas provides. We need it. It works.
What have you endured that made you question God's promises? Or his plan? Or even his love for you? If you haven't been there yet, hold on. You will be. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego must have had the same questions when they were being thrown into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Today we gather to better appreciate their extraordinary response, “Even if the Lord doesn’t rescue us, we'll still worship him.” Miraculously, God was with them in the fire. And, God is with you. Let the Spirit convince you, even in your fiery furnace, you are more than what meets the eye because of the Miracle of Christmas.
How would you respond if someone asked you, “Are you a Christian?” If your answer is, “Well, I’m trying,” you really don’t understand what it is to be a Christian. That’s not meant to alarm anyone as much as it’s meant to make us hunger for the truth about the way God works. The children of Israel witnessed a miracle of crossing over, but so have you. We’re glad your with us today to delight in it and worship God for it.
THE miracle of Christmas is that eternal, unchangeable God became a finite and changing baby -- not to mention a baby who needed changing! The baby in the manger we’ll worship on Christmas is God. God prepared the world for him by other miracles. For the next four weeks, we are asking God to prepare us for him by our study of four miracles that occurred long before Jesus was born but which point to all that God would accomplish through his birth. Welcome to Advent: a season to prepare us to celebrate Jesus’ birth by preparing also for Jesus’ return.
Not many of us like an argument, though some of us do. In Acts 15, we see how the early church resolved a serious argument. It was about bacon. And rare steak. And circumcision. What makes such things serious? Because it would have been possible to take the best news in the universe and twist it into being not good news at all. Thankfully, that didn't happen. We’re glad you’ve joined our family of faith today to praise and thank God for the freedom he's given us and his instructions on how to use it.
No one, given the option, would choose to suffer. No moral person likes to watch another suffer. Yet, the Bible tells us suffering is necessary on our way to the kingdom of God. Moses, Paul, Peter, Jesus, and a host of other biblical characters suffered necessarily. What about you? What good is your suffering? We’re glad you’re with us to seek the answer in the Spirit's truth delivered through the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey. What we find won't make us suffer more, but we will find God's plan for us to suffer better. May God bless you through it and through your worship today.
Welcome to the gathering of saints. This weekend we’re learning from the pattern of the very first Christians. They loved the needy. They called out the idols. Idols? I've never bowed down to anything. Yes, but everybody lives for something. Something gives meaning to your life. That's your god. The good news is that there is a much better one; one who satisfies like nothing else can. His name is Jesus and he’s the only one who will satisfy you when you trust him and forgive you when you fail him. He's the one we’re here to worship.
What’s the most valuable thing you own? Your house or car? Your mind, legacy, or time? While these things may certainly hold some sort of value to us in our lives, the Son of God directs our attention to something else. He points us to the most valuable thing we own: the Truth. Our minds, of course, have other ideas. My mind loves distraction. It lives for it. It cannot wait to find some new thing that will pull me away from the only precious gift I’ve been given—the only gift that changes my life completely. When I begin to let go, however, Jesus is there. He’s there in love to rattle me. He’s there to bring me to repentance. He’s there to forgive me. He is there to encourage me. Today, let's stay focused and to hold on to what matters. Stick to the Word!
That's bold! The last time you said that, were you referring to a gutsy move, an offensive statement, or guacamole? The adjective bold covers a lot of ground, doesn't it? The apostle Paul spoke the word of God boldly. While it's interesting to ponder what that meant, it's more meaningful to determine how we will boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus. Through our hearing of the gospel today and receiving of the gospel in the Lord’s Supper, may the Holy Spirit give us boldness to proclaim Christ to each other and to others. That’s why we’re a church.
Aren't facts bothersome? Your doctor, mechanic, or accountant tells you, "This is the way it is." You wish it wasn’t, but you can't deny the fact. We've come to the first of three of Paul's sermons recorded in the Book of Acts, and it deals with facts of Jesus. Some people found the facts very inconvenient, just like some do today. But stay with Paul's sermon and you will hear what the facts mean and how they're fulfilled. Then and now, it's God's message to bring people into his kingdom and keep us there. We’re glad you’re with us today to consider the facts of Jesus and what they mean. We call it worship.
Paul and Barnabas sailed from Antioch (Syria) and to the island of Cyprus, about 100 miles westward into the Mediterranean Sea. Imagine their excitement. But one of the first people they met was an agent of Satan who does his best to discredit the message of Jesus. Now imagine their confusion. Which will win, the agent of Satan or the agent of God? The answer matters because you, too, are an agent of God commissioned to take the gospel to others. You, too, will encounter agents of Satan. We’re so glad you’re here to journey with Paul and Barnabas…and us.
Have you asked your parents why they gave you the name you have? Sometimes a deep meaning emerges, sometimes not. Either way, most of us want to know how we got our names. Do you know how you got the name Christian? The Bible says believers were first called Christians in a city called Antioch in Syria. What they did will help us understand our name better. Welcome to Acts II. You’re with people who bear the same name you have. You'll see the family resemblance.
Good to be a tree
Catchphrases like “Be all that you can be” and “Do what you were made to do” hint at a deep-down drive inside the human heart that pushes us . . . and nags at us. Am I doing the right things? Am I doing them well enough? If God hadn’t put that voice inside us, we might be content with a life of Netflix and Doritos. But once you start asking, “Am I doing something that matters?” you need some answers. Another voice, God’s own, answers clearly from the pages of the Bible. We’ll listen to Psalm 92 as we gather together today to grow and praise, just like you were made to do.
Anything you really love, you praise. You have to. Try going to a Packer or Badger game and not cheering. If you're a fan, you can't. Praise erupts spontaneously, and you do it better with others. In our last week on Psalm 63, we will invite the Spirit to teach us about our praise to the Lord—what it is, why we do it, and what makes it different from every other kind of praise we engage in. Welcome to saints gathered to do what we can't help but do: praise.
What's your favorite sense? Seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, or smelling? Hard to choose, isn't it? Throughout Scripture, the Spirit uses our senses to help us appreciate and know God. We’re glad you’re with us in this place to encounter God in his Word and at his Table. Enjoy a feast for your senses. We’d love to serve you with more so that you might appreciate and know God all the better. Our pastor invites you to contact him for a conversation about your needs and how we might help.
Moms are pit bulls when it comes to protecting their children's appetites. They know that a child who eats a cookie right before a meal, will feel full but won't get the nutrition he or she needs from the meal because they won't be hungry. Some grandpas hate that. But moms are right. In Psalm 63 David describes a spiritual appetite—what ruins it, how to get it, and even the sign that you have it. What a blessing to gather with fellow saints to hunger for God and feast at his Table. If the Lord’s Supper is new to you or your new to our church, we invite you to First Group to prepare to receive it with us for the first time.
Some Olympic runners train for a lifetime to not just run the race, but to pass the baton in a relay. No matter how well you run, it will not go well if you don’t pass the baton. St. Andrew, by God's grace we have the baton of the Good News of Jesus. It's exciting and it feels so good. The facilities we rededicate and dedicate today are to pass the Good News of Jesus to the next generation. We’re glad you’re with us for this special day. We don’t exist to build buildings, but our buildings exist to help us serve in God’s plan to build his kingdom in the hearts of young and old.
Box Tops for Education is a program to use shopping rebates to fund education. But what's education for? Psalm 100 gives us God's answer. He created and redeemed to praise him. If education doesn't lead to praising God, it fails. If knowing the truth doesn't lead to knowing God and his love, it fails. Education is either for the praise of God or it's hollow and rootless, a noisy gong. We’re so glad you made it here today to know, enjoy, and praise the Lord by sinking your roots into his truth.
You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the people in your life who "really get you." Jesus proved he belongs on that list. For example, Jesus knows you worry. And he knows your worries have the potential to block your view of God's promises. So Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to tell you, Look at the Birds. We’re glad you’re joining us, your fellow worriers, to read about Jesus' sermon in Matthew 26:25-34 and learn how to set worries aside.
Deliver us from evil (inside and outside) The writer of Psalm 73 confesses he's in the grip of envy. To envy is to want someone else's life. It's not only to feel that they don't deserve the good life they have; but it's to want it for yourself. This kind of spiritual self-pity will drain your joy and make it impossible to enjoy the good things God has given you. But by the end of the psalm, the author has a breakthrough and sees the antidote. We’re glad you’ve gathered with the saints here for the privilege of coming into his presence and receiving the antidote. We pray the Spirit blesses you today. If we can be of any service to you, please contact us.
Praise the Lord. It's more than a Pinterest board, the full name of a defunct televangelist group (PTL), or a spontaneous outburst of a believer's gratitude. In fact, the setting of those words in Psalm 146 have more to do with justice and care for the poor or sick. Find the interesting juxtaposition in Psalm 146, but don't be too surprised. Our Lord specializes in the unexpected.
According to God, you don't need a feather, a mantra, or a pose. This weekend, let the author of Psalm 77 teach you God's way to meditate. He was facing something difficult, but he wasn't being stoic or gritting his teeth until the storm passed or just venting his feelings to a friend. Instead, he redirected his thoughts and feelings toward the truth about God and took God's truth deep into his heart. It's not the work of a moment; it is the practice of a lifetime. We’re glad you are with us today to grow in this lifetime of worship and seeking God’s truth.
Have you ever known someone who got everything they wanted on a silver platter? How did it effect their character? What if God gave you everything you ever wanted? At first you may think that would be fantastic, but soon you might begin to realize that would not be a good thing at all. This weekend, learn from times when God said, “No” to things his people wanted and how that was best. You may even begin to rejoice in the times in your own life when God said, “No”!
All Scripture is God-breathed, but Psalm 22 must be one of the most important of all the psalms. No psalm is more quoted in the New Testament. Many psalms focus on the suffering and triumph of King David. This psalms graphically foretells the suffering and triumph of the Messiah, Jesus. Let the Spirit fill you with fresh appreciation for both the Messiah’s suffering and the Messiah’s glory. Then may he guide you in the decisions you make this week to reflect your love for him.