Category Archives: theology

  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. Table > altar

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    July 30, 2019 by jmar198013

    When Christians gather for the Lord’s Supper on Sundays, what are we there for? A feast or a funeral? Have we gathered as sinners at an altar, or as a community of God’s redeemed joyfully together at a table? Is it a time for mourning or joy? The story scripture tells is God calling us into fellowship with him. The altar–the cross of Christ–is God’s way of restoring that fellowship when it broke down due to sin. The table is greater than the altar, because the altar’s job is to bring us back to the table of fellowship with God.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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