Category Archives: hermeneutics

  1. Perfect strangers, united in Christ (Ephesians 1.3-14) [sermon 8-11-19]

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    August 13, 2019 by jmar198013

    Ephesians 1.3-14 is a word of praise from Paul, where he tells the story of what God has done, is doing, and will do through Christ. God’s goal, he says, is to join all things together under Christ. The church reflects God’s purposes by uniting all kinds of people in Christ–people of every race and color and nation and language. That sounds like a beautiful ideal, but it comes with culture shock and growing pains. The classic sitcom “Perfect Strangers” gives us a glimpse of the challenges we will have to negotiate for the church to look like the mosaic of humanity God intends. But it also shows us the joy that can arise when God transforms perfect strangers into a family in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

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  2. God is the hero: Reading Ephesians with “Mr. Belvedere” (Ephesians 1.1-2) [sermon 8-4-19]

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    August 6, 2019 by jmar198013

    In the classic sitcom “Mr. Belvedere,” a cultured English butler becomes a housekeeper for a middle class family in Pittsburgh, PA. As the title suggests, Mr. Belvedere is the hero of the show–he’s there to rescue that family. When we read scripture, are we looking for help or a hero? The first two verses of Ephesians make clear who the hero of the story is. And that we need a hero–not just a helper.

  3. The last battle (Revelation 19 – 22) [sermon 7-21-19]

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    July 23, 2019 by jmar198013

    The book of Revelation is the least-understood and therefore most-abused book of the Bible. In this final lesson in our series on spiritual warfare, we see the hope the book of Revelation offers: One day God’s long war against sin, suffering, and death will be over. Christ will return in judgment of everything that harms humanity and vandalizes God’s creation. And when the smoke of that final battle clears, heaven and earth will be fully reconciled, and we will return home to a renewed Eden.

  4. Rescued from the winepress (Judges 6.11-24) [sermon 7-14-19]

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    July 23, 2019 by jmar198013

    Gideon was threshing his grain in a winepress when Christ found him. He was hiding because he was afraid. But Christ called Gideon a mighty warrior, and told him the LORD was with him. We all find ourselves threshing grain in the winepress sometimes–doing things that don’t make any sense in a place we never meant to be. Christ has come to rescue us from the winepress. He is God-with-us, and like Gideon, we find our true identity in him.

  5. Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46.10) [sermon 7-7-19]

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    July 9, 2019 by jmar198013

    In Christian pop culture, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is emblazoned on coffee mugs and inspirational posters. It’s typically understood as God calling believers to take a break from our struggles and rest in him. But is that what it means in context? Psalm 46:10 may actually be the last words you’d ever want God to say to you. In this message, we find out 1) who God actually spoke those words to; 2) why it’s still good news for us; and 3) the actual verse from Psalm 46 the author would want us to put on our coffee mugs and inspirational posters.

  6. The battle isn’t yours. It belongs to God! (2 Chronicles 20.5-23) [sermon 6-30-19]

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    July 2, 2019 by jmar198013

    2 Chronicles 20 is a strange and wonderful tale about God fighting for his people. In the days of King Jehoshaphat, Judah was about to be invaded by three armies all at once. So Jehoshaphat gathered the people of Jerusalem in front of the temple, and prayed for rescue. God inspired a prophet to tell them that the battle was God’s and not theirs. This story teaches us powerful lessons to help us gear up for spiritual battles. First: this is God’s fight, not ours. And also that prayer and praise are two of the most powerful weapons God’s people ever wield.

  7. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” [sermon 6-16-19]

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    June 22, 2019 by jmar198013

    Christ didn’t establish the church and then add the Spirit. Instead, Christ sent the Spirit and the church was born. We see this event, the birth of the church, in Acts 2. In fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. The Spirit empowers the church to carry on the mission God began with Christ. The scope of that mission in universal, for the Spirit empowers men and women, young and old, slave and free. The scale of the mission is cosmic, for it involves all creation. And the target of the mission is salvation.

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