Songs of the Season (Part 2): Luke 1:46-55 // Mary's Song

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Songs of the Season (Part 2): Luke 1:46-55 // Mary's Song

Luke 1:26-56 (NRSV)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

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Songs of the Season (Part 1): Isaiah 11:1-9 // Prophet's Song

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Songs of the Season (Part 1): Isaiah 11:1-9 // Prophet's Song

Isaiah 11:1-9 (NRSV)

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

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Psalm 126 // Sowing and Reaping

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Psalm 126 // Sowing and Reaping

An audio recording of the sermon from Sunday, November 25th, is not available. A transcript of the sermon is available below.

PERSONAL UPDATE

Good morning! It’s great to be back with you. I want to say a great big thanks to the elders and to you all for the gift of the past two weeks. There has been so much goodness in them.

First of all, Katelyn and I are now married! Here’s a photo of us and our wedding party -- siblings and longtime friends. The wedding was beautiful, somehow the weather was clear and perfect. We had friends and family travel from all over the country to join us on our special day. The ceremony was wonderful. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Then a couple of days after the wedding we headed off on our honeymoon in the U.K. We got to see London, Oxford, and the British countryside as well as Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands. Then, on the way back we had a long layover in Iceland where we got to explore a little. Here’s a photo from our first day in London, standing outside the Buckingham Palace. And here’s a photo from our final day in Iceland, standing in front of the beautiful landscape of that country.

Some other time, I’d love to share more stories and more pictures with you, but for now I just want to say thank you again to you for the gift of getting to take off the last couple of weeks for our wedding and our first adventure together as a married couple. (There’s a lifetime of adventures yet to come!)

INTRODUCTION

You can all go ahead and open up to Psalm 126, this will be our text today. Psalm 126 has been a very special psalm to Katelyn and I, because it played a special part in each of our lives before we met. It captures a lot of the redemption that we have experienced in our relationship together.

As I reflect on the laughter that we shared in the car driving around the UK, our relationship began on a very different note. Some of you know our story and some of you may not, but both Katelyn and I were married before. Those marriages ended in abandonment and betrayal. We first met as two friends who had been through painful divorces and we sat down to ask one another the question, “How did you survive? How are you surviving?” We each shared our stories of pain and brokenness. Long before we shared the laughter of a honeymoon, we shared the tears of our divorces.  --- And how far we’ve come since that first conversation! Our relationship and now marriage has been an act of God’s redemption through and through. It is a story that I hope we will have more opportunities to share with you and please feel free to ask us.

Psalm 126 is a psalm of both laughter and tears. It is also a psalm about harvest, so it connects well to this autumn season and our celebration of Thanksgiving this past week. Katelyn and I arrived back in the U.S. right around 5pm on the evening of Thanksgiving. Her dad came and picked us up and we headed to her parents place in time for a late Thanksgiving dinner. I’m sure many of you had your own Thanksgiving celebrations this past week with family traditions and special recipes. Times like these can be filled with laughter and joy as we gather round tables with loved ones. But others of you may have had a different kind of experience. Maybe holiday gatherings stir up more tears for you rather than laughter as you miss family members who have passed on or as strained relationships come more sharply into view during this time of year.

Psalm 126 does well, I think, to set the stage for us as we navigate the many emotions of the holiday season. The laughter and the tears that it can be so filled with. I hope that we can gather some wisdom and hope from it together today.

So let’s read this psalm responsively together.

TEXT

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
   “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
   and we rejoiced.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
   like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
   reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
   carrying their sheaves.

The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

A SONG OF ASCENTS

Before we dive into the psalm, I want to point out what kind of psalm this is. As you look in your Bible, do you see an indicator above verse 1? It should say something like “A song of ascents.” If you flip over and look as the psalms that come before this one and the psalms that come after, you’ll see the same thing. Psalms 120 - 134 are all psalms of ascent. They were songs that the people would sing as they “ascended” their way to Jerusalem for gathering festivals like Passover and Pentecost. There is something for us to consider in this today.

The songs of ascent are not the songs of the festival they are going to but rather songs intended to prepare them for the festival. They are not songs of celebration, but of anticipation. These songs were sung in the midst of the journey. They are pilgrim songs, songs on-the-way, not songs of arrival.

These are apt songs for us to know and sing as well (or at least read) because we are all pilgrims on-the-way. We have not yet arrived, yet we have hope for the journey. In some ways, this is true of all of our worship. The songs we sing together each week prepare us for the coming celebration of the coming of God’s kingdom. Someday, we will sing full-throated songs of celebration when Jesus returns to make all things new.

This theme is especially true for us in this season as we “Walk to Bethlehem” which you can see on the wall back there. (Reminder to send your activity info to Corinne each week!) We are all on a journey together as a church. Next week we will begin the season of Advent, which is not Christmas but rather an anticipation of Christmas. The songs of ascent are songs of anticipation. It’s the difference between the Christmas song “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” and the Advent song “Come O Come Emmanuel.” One is celebration and the other anticipation. The songs of ascent are like this. They are songs sung on-the-way. And we’ll see as we look more closely at the psalm that the first half of it, the psalmist rejoices in “When the Lord restored our fortunes” but then in the second half cries out “Restore our fortunes, Lord!” It’s not either/or, but both. God has restored their fortunes and yet there is further anticipation of restoration along the way.

So let’s look at it more closely now.

A SONG OF LAUGHTER

As I just said, this first half is a picture of God’s restoration. And look at the description here. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream… our mouth was filled with laughter… our tongue with shouts of joy…” I wonder if any of this sounds like the kind of celebration that some of you had this past week? Was there laughter and joy around the Thanksgiving table? I can tell you that I certainly felt this at Katelyn’s and my wedding celebration. And there were multiple times throughout the honeymoon that it just felt like a dream. “Is this actually real?”

This is what the restoration that God brings to our lives is like. Forgiveness of sin; daily bread; revitalized relationships; “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” as we just sang. Every now and then the reality of God’s love ought to make us dizzy like a dream. The wonder of the gospel fills our lives with laughter and joy. As I prepared for this week I came across a Yiddish proverb: “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” So let laughter come from your mouth and let the joy of the Lord cleanse your soul from all that weighs it down!

And as great as all of this is, the psalm goes on to say that this laughter is not just for our sake. The nations overhear the joy that comes from Israel and exclaim, “The Lord has done great things for them!” And I think this is what it means to witness to others, to share the gospel with others. It’s not primarily about convincing people about how bad things are (most people already know that), but rather about showing them how good things can be. We should let the daze of the gospel’s dream and the echo of redemption’s laughter carry out into our everyday lives. Let your joy in God’s restoration be overheard by the people around you!

So, for those of you who experience the restoration of God: Where are the places of laughter in your life that you can share with others? Where are the shouts of joy that might be overheard by your coworkers, neighbors, and family members? Meditate on these things and let them be heard! For as the psalm says, “The Lord has done great things for us and we rejoiced!”

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Because we’re a people on-the-way. And some of us aren’t experiencing laughter right now.

A SONG OF TEARS

So it goes on to say, “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.” This is a prayer from those still in need of restoration.

The Negeb is the region south of Jerusalem, which places is right between Egypt and Jerusalem. This is the desert wilderness that Israel had to cross through on their way out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. This is the region that some of the pilgrims who sang this psalm would have been passing through on their way to Jerusalem for the festival. The Negeb is a very dry region, but when it rains the watercourses fill and flow. It’s transformed. This is their prayer.

Yet, even in the wilderness of despair, they have hope. Look at these last verses. “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” Verse 5 is a blessing and verse 6 is a promise. And they read much like Jesus’ own words in Luke 6:21, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” You see, tears are not a sign of weakness but of strength. They are not a sign of curse, but of blessing. Though they may feel like a barren land, they hold the promise of a great harvest! These tears are blessed! Those who sow their tears into the broken landscape of a fallen world will someday reap with the laughter and joy of redemption! This is a promise from the psalmist and from the mouth of Jesus himself! These tears aren’t all for naught. If laughter is like soap for the soul, then tears are like ointment for broken hearts. Let them flow and let them bring healing to your heart and to the hearts of others! And let us look to Christ who sowed not only with tears in Gethsemane, but with his blood on the cross. His sowing has reaped salvation and redemption for us all! Truly, “those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”

CONCLUSION

In addition to soap and ointment, laughter and tears are relational adhesives. Just think about it, those who you are closest with, are those who stick together through both the laughter and the tears of life. Katelyn and I have the firm adhesive of both tears and laughter holding us together. Many of you have friends and family who you’ve shared both joy and sorrow with. My word to you this morning is that throughout this coming holiday season, there is sure to be a mix of laughter and tears for all of you. There will be moments of celebration and moments of anticipation. So let the laughter resound and let the tears flow. They are the adhesive that will bring you nearer to those around you. They are the signs of blessing that God gives. They are the experience of God’s restoration for both now and all the days to come.

Amen.


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(Part 2): Hebrews 2:6-18

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(Part 2): Hebrews 2:6-18

Hebrews 2:6-18 (NRSV)

But someone has testified somewhere,

“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned them with glory and honor,
    subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

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(Part 1): Hebrews 1:1-4

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(Part 1): Hebrews 1:1-4

Hebrews 1:1-4 (NRSV)

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

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Remembering God (Part 5): 2 Timothy 1:3-14 // Remembering the Saints

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Remembering God (Part 5): 2 Timothy 1:3-14 // Remembering the Saints

2 Timothy 1:3-14 (NRSV)

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.

13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

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Remembering God (Part 4): 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 // Remembering in Communion

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Remembering God (Part 4): 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 // Remembering in Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NRSV)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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Remembering God (Part 3): Psalm 77 // Remembering in Lament

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Remembering God (Part 3): Psalm 77 // Remembering in Lament

Psalm 77 (NRSV)

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A Psalm.

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, that he may hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan;
    I meditate, and my spirit faints.
You keep my eyelids from closing;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    and remember the years of long ago.

I commune with my heart in the night;
    I meditate and search my spirit:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love ceased forever?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
10 And I say, “It is my grief
    that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
    I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all your work,
    and muse on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have displayed your might among the peoples.
15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    the very deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies thundered;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
    your path, through the mighty waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

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Remembering God (Part 2): Psalm 136 // Remembering in Celebration

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Remembering God (Part 2): Psalm 136 // Remembering in Celebration

Psalm 136 (NRSV)

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed famous kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to his servant Israel,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 O give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

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Remembering God (Part 1): Deuteronomy 6:1-12 // Remembering Because We Forget

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Remembering God (Part 1): Deuteronomy 6:1-12 // Remembering Because We Forget

Deuteronomy 6:1-12 (NRSV)

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, 11 houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, 12 take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 4): Acts 2:42-47 // Community Unto Mission

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 4): Acts 2:42-47 // Community Unto Mission

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 3): Colossians 3:1-17 // Liturgy Unto Life

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 3): Colossians 3:1-17 // Liturgy Unto Life

Colossians 3:1-17 (NRSV)

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewalthere is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 2): Ephesians 4:4-13 // Equipping for Ministry

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 2): Ephesians 4:4-13 // Equipping for Ministry

Ephesians 4:4-13 (NRSV)

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”

(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

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A Vision for Ministry (Part 1): 1 Timothy 4:6-16 // Commitments for Ministry

Comment

A Vision for Ministry (Part 1): 1 Timothy 4:6-16 // Commitments for Ministry

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (NRSV)

If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 These are the things you must insist on and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

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