Happy Birthday, Church!

 

This Sunday (May 27th) is Pentecost Sunday.  It was on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2) that the church was born.  I find it strange that we observe the birth of Christ which was not a holiday in the beginning, but don't observe the birth of the church which was a holiday all through the centuries following the first Christian Pentecost.

My message this Sunday, “Downsizing The Spirit” is a look at why there has been a de-emphasis on Pentecost and how this lack of attention has contributed to the “downsizing” of the Spirit in the modern church. 

The last thing we need today is to downsize the source of power to move the body of Christ ahead in a world similar to the world of the first century. 

We will examine the Promise of Pentecost and the Presence of Pentecost.  I suggest reading John 14 and Acts 2 in preparation. 

 

Jim 

A Father to Pharaoh

Moses, Daniel, Elijah, and Joseph had this in common:  They were all sent by Yahweh to unbelieving kings or leaders for His purpose.  Each went armed with two things:  A message and a miracle.  The miracle would confirm that the message was valid.We remember well the miracles of Moses, Daniel, and Elijah, but what miracle did Joseph perform before Pharaoh?  Moses, Daniel, and Elijah all did acts that defied nature that would get anyone's attention.  Not Joseph.  God used another wonder in penetrating the heart of this Egyptian king.  This coming Sunday, we will study what God employed that would alter the history of Egypt and Israel.  It's truly a remarkable story of Yahweh's wisdom that confounds the mightiest of rulers.  Genesis 41 will be our main text.  See ya, Sunday!

The Epistle To Philemon

Paul's letter to Philemon is the shortest of all Paul's writings, and yet it deals with a big problem:  the problem and practice of slavery.  The epistle suggests that Paul was in prison at the time of the writing.  Philemon was a slave-owner who also hosted a house church.  During the time of Paul's ministry in Ephesus, Philemon had likely journeyed to the city, heard Paul's preaching and became a Christian.  Philemon had a slave, Onesimus, who robbed from Philemon and then ran away.  Onesimus made his way to Rome and found Paul, and like his slave owner, became a Christian. 

 

The Book of Philemon is about Paul's efforts to reconcile slave and slave owner, but in the spirit as brothers.  Paul's brief letter is to the point on our responsibility toward each other as employers and employees.  The apostle did not deal with the social implications as much as the spiritual implications of responsibility.  “Christian love is alive in the marketplace” says Paul.  Only the power of this love can eventually undo the snare of any slavery.

 

Fred Sitter will be presenting a unique approach to this postcard epistle this coming Sunday.

 

Jim

How To Plead Your Case With God

This Sunday's study (April 22nd) is based on Psalm 143.  It seems like the psalmist is always in some kind of crisis.  He's persecuted, crushed, in death's darkness, and distressed.  He's thirsty for God, his spirit is failing, and he's hounded by enemies.  In the context of feeling so overwhelmed, how should David pray?  Psalm 143 provides some interesting insights.

Last Sunday we spoke of the importance of meditating on the acts of God.  David brings this up in this psalm (verse 5).  The psalmist uses memory of God's past acts to get present results.  Memory builds faith!  As David remembered God's personal intervention in his life, he's saying, "Do it again, Yahweh!"  

We can learn much from the ancients on the topic of prayer.  If we learn to pray like David, we can expect to receive answers like David did.  To get there, we need to reacquaint ourselves with a God who longs to hear our voices, and One who loves to welcome His children who humble themselves before Him.  

Take a look at Psalm 143 this week.  Come with expectation when we meet on the Lord's Day.

Jim

Why Solomon Asked For Wisdom

I Kings 3 tells the classic account of Solomon's request for wisdom and Yahweh's overwhelming response.  In a dream, God appeared with a forthright invitation, “Ask!  What shall I give you?”  Here the God of heaven bends down to grant the supplication of a man and graciously puts the key to all His treasures in the young man's hand.  Within the bounds of reason, Solomon could have obtained anything he wished. 

Solomon responded first with a spirit of gratitude, acknowledging the bountiful blessings of Yahweh in the life of his father, David as well as in his own experience.  Then, he prays humbly, “I am a little child.”  Scholars believe Solomon was in his late teens or early twenties.  He was expressing his inadequacies as he faced the awesome tasks of leadership.  Facing the pressures of following his successful father and being so inexperienced moved Solomon to ask for wisdom.  It was a wise decision to admit his insufficiency before God.  The Bible repeatedly teaches us that God hears the pleas of the humble petitioner who admits his need. 

Solomon was granted wisdom and his career was blessed, so blessed that God gave him bonuses that would enhance his tenure as king.  When we truly seek God's kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33), God does take care of all the rest.  On Sunday we'll talk about how every believer is given the same promise given Solomon. 

Jim

Series On Devotion

The word “devoted” is a relatively common word in Scripture. Acts 2:42 reveals that the early believers were “devoted” to the apostles' doctrine and to one another.Paul was “devoted” to preaching (Acts 18:5). Paul used the word in urging followers to “devote” themselves to prayer (Colossians 4:2), and to one another (Romans 12:10).  Jesus spoke of the dilemma of being “devoted” to two masters (Matthew 6:24) and the impossibility of dividing one's heart. Devotion. The first century believer understood the term and strived to live that term because nothing less could direct one through times of trial and temptation. Our culture understands this term as well, because people will find themselves drawn to something or someone who demands a devotion-like status. In the next four weeks we will be looking at the description of a devoted follower of Christ - what it looks like. Being devoted to Christ has four dimensions we will explore in depth. I'm looking forward to studying with you and being challenged by God's Word!

Jim

 

Wide Angle: Framing Your World View

On Sunday March 11, we begin a new study series in the Sunday 9:30 AM class based on the video series Wide Angle: Framing Your World View.

Christian leaders Chuck Colson and Rick Warren have joined together to produce a stimulating new study called Wide Angle: Framing Your Worldview.

Our worldview -the way we look at life-impacts everything we do. The moral choices we make; the way we spend our money; the kind of relationships we have; the priorities we set.

The question is : Is our worldview fully shaped by Christian truth? And do we know the best way to detect and counter the false values of our culture?

In this brand new DVD study series, Colson and Warren tackle some of the key issues of our day: truth vs. relativism, creationism vs. Darwinism, tolerance, terrorism, and so much more. You will learn about competing worldviews, the biblical basis for a Christian worldview, and its application to every facet of life.

 


 

Chinese New Year 2007

On Saturday evening, February 24, we celebrated the Chinese New Year (the year of the pig) with Chinese food, a presentation about Chinese new year traditions, and a performance by a local Chinese orchestra. Thanks to Joe and Lisa Chai for doing such a great job organizing the food and presentation and arranging the musical performance!

There are a bunch of videos in the photo gallery: link. WRCC members, if you're logged in you should be able to upload some of your own photos of the event to the gallery. Here are a couple videos...first, hard at work with the food prep:

 

 

and second, Joe Chai's musical performance:

 


 

Pursue - Overtake - Recover

Ziklag was listed as one of the 29 towns in Negev assigned to the tribe of Simoen (Joshua 15:31; 19:5). It was apparently controlled by the Philistines during King Saul's rule, and was given to David by King Achish of Gath. David used the town as a home base for raids against various groups who threatened the southern borders of Judah (I Samuel 27). After being away one time, David returned to find it ransacked by the Amalekites.

David's response is a powerful story of reclaiming what was lost. Often in life we find ourselves in this situation. What is God's take on our situation? Some interesting principles in the text we'll examine on Sunday morning. To know God's attitude about our losses is valuable when we seek His direction on how to respond. Have you lost your Ziklag? God has three words for you. Come expecting a blessing!

Amazing Grace: Opinions & Options

This Friday (23rd) the movie, "Amazing Grace" premiers all over the nation.  It is a story of one's man driving passion to eradicate slavery in the British Empire.  The story is a journey of struggle and ultimately victory.  We will have a few clips about the movie during the assembly on Sunday (25th).  

When Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech to the 14th Indiana Regiment in 1865, he said, in part:  "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."  Nine years earlier, during his annual message to Congress, Lincoln asserted:  "In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom for the free - honorable alkie in what we give and waht we preserve."  In a Birmingham jail in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:  "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  

Looking forward to our study on Sunday!  Jim

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