“Pray for God’s Encouragement and Strength” (Billy Russell, 2/23/20)

“Pray for God’s Encouragement and Strength” (Billy Russell, 2/23/20)

February 27, 2020

                                  Praying More in Desperate Days

                        “Pray for God’s Encouragement and Strength”


“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thes. 2:16-17)


In desperate times why risk your unknown future in fervent prayer?

     When life is unstable/uncertain, we find our stability/certainty in our God!


Prayer finds its resource in two undeniable, unchangeable gifts (2:16):


     The basis of the prayer is founded upon what God in Jesus has provided!


     #1- the demonstrable love of the Father in the Son (cf.Rom.5:8; 8:39)-

         “who loved us...”- a revealed/experiential, sacrificial, selfless, generous,    

                                           commitment to us!

     #2- the evident saving/sustainable grace of God (2 Cor.12:9; Eph.2:8)

           “by his grace gave us...”- grace is His gift to us! Benevolence, favor!

           “eternal encouragement”- an on, and on, and infinitely on kind of

               encouragement! An unending source of courage/comfort (now/later)

           “and good hope”- it’s know for being a good hope (not a false hope).

                                            Phrase refers to hope in life after death.


[So, because we have these ready resources (love & grace) at our ever disposal, we ask God, the Giver of good gifts (James 1:17) to also add to them...]


Pray for 2 much needed resources in desperate days (2:17; 1 Thes.3:11-13):

    #1- Encouragement (comfort)-“Encourage your hearts”- an ever present need!

              Inside out courage/comfort (“heart” as center of the person)

              Internal drive of spiritual growth impacting the will/pathos/energy.

  #2- Strength (support)- “Strengthen you in every good deed and word”

       Confirm or establish fruitful living despite trying circumstances.

       Outwardly the encouragement/strength become visible in word/deed.

         Ask God for diligence in days ofdifficulty / discouragement / desperation

“Pray for God to Count You Worthy of His Calling” (Billy Russell, 2/16/20)

“Pray for God to Count You Worthy of His Calling” (Billy Russell, 2/16/20)

February 27, 2020

Praying More in Desperate Days

                   “Pray for God to Count You Worthy of His Calling”

                                            (2 Thes. 1:11-12)


   “... we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling....”    (-Paul to the believers in Thessalonica, 2 Thes.1:11, NIV”)


How do you pray when days are difficult, discouraging, or desperate? How would you be changed, if you fervently prayed for God’s sanctifying work to be accomplished in your life? Paul teaches believers to pursue a purposeful prayer path focused on glorifying the Lord Jesus no matter our circumstances.


Desperate days require a commitment to sanctifying prayer (1:11).

     Prayer characterized by being: set apart, changed, and committed.

     Prayer constantly focused on spiritual growth, despite circumstances.


                                            3 Ways to Pray


Pray to live a life worthy of God’s calling (1:11)- living by faith matters!

          Ask God to make you worthy (you can’t do it alone).

          It is His calling of you to this life (you did not call yourself to it).

          This call to prayer is a constant response to desperate need.




Pray to be empowered to live a fruitful life (1:11)- being fruitful matters!

          Ask God to empower you to a fruitful life to fulfill...

                “every desire for goodness”-

                “every deed prompted by faith”-




Pray to glorify the Lord Jesus (1:12)- Ultimately, glorifying Jesus matters!

         Purposeful prayer: “the name of the Lord Jesus...”

                                       “glorified in you and you in Him”

                                       made possible only by divine “grace”

The Temple Sermon: Then and Now (Bing Bayer, 2/9/20)

The Temple Sermon: Then and Now (Bing Bayer, 2/9/20)

February 27, 2020

The Temple Sermon: Then and Now Jeremiah 7:1-15

The Lord calls Judah to repent an dnot to trust in deceptive words (1-8).

The Lord expresses incredulity at Judah's ground for security (9-11).

The Lord refutes their claim of security and announces certain judgement (12-15).

“Be Humble (ever increasingly so)” (Billy Russell, 2/2/20)

“Be Humble (ever increasingly so)” (Billy Russell, 2/2/20)

February 27, 2020

Handling 2020 Surprises
“Be Humble (ever increasingly so)”

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (-John the Baptizer, Jn.3:30, NAS)

We can handle the surprises the new year brings when we: love no matter, trust Jesus like a child, practice situational wisdom, and grow in humility.
Love, faith, wisdom, and humility can carry us through our 2020 surprises!

Embrace providence (“He must increase...”)- More and more of Jesus.
John knows his prophetic role. He has a place in Kingdom work.
John knows his assignment (3:28): “He” is not me. He = Jesus.
John trusts the only wise God with the rest of his life and ministry (3:27).
John’s purpose is fulfilled in Jesus’ ever increasing (growing) ministry.


Embrace humility (“... but I must decrease.”)- Less and less about me.
Understand your moment and role (Jesus is “above all” 3:31).
Humility is the servant’s path (bridegroom’s friend, 3:29).
There is joy (spiritual contentment) with such humility (3:29).
Where did this humble path of providence lead John?


Embrace the unknown- How can John face the future?
Humility allows for the need of reassurance (Mt.11:2-3; Lk.7:18-20)
Humility allows for questions to be asked and answered (Mt.11:4-15).
Humility trusts God is at work in/through all things (Mt.14:10-13).
Humility serves and points people to Jesus (Jn.1:6-9).
“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10).

“Be Shrewd (Wise) and Innocent (Prudent)” (Billy Russell, 1/26/20)

“Be Shrewd (Wise) and Innocent (Prudent)” (Billy Russell, 1/26/20)

February 27, 2020

                                       Handling 2020 Surprises

                          “Be Shrewd (Wise) and Innocent (Prudent)”


         “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as   

     shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (-Jesus, Mt.10:16, NIV)


We can handle the surprises the new year brings when we: love no matter, trust Jesus like a child, and practice being shrewd and innocent on mission.

Love, faith, and wisdom can carry us through whatever 2020 may bring!


Jesus sends out His disciples (Mt.10:16a)-

     Don’t miss Jesus’ important declarative: “I am sending you out...”

          The 12 were sent to declare the Kingdom come to fellow Israelites.

          Later, Jesus commissioned them/us to the nations (Mt.28:19).

     Jesus uses a simile for the disciples: “like sheep among wolves.”

          It reflects risk/danger in the mission.

          Opportunity for testimony and persecution (Keener).

          It reflects the Good Shepherd’s relationship w/ his sheep (disciples).


Jesus commands a strategic ministry approach (Mt.10:16b)-

    “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

     Jesus offers a proverb to picture this guarded approach (Card).

     What does Jesus mean: “shrewd as snakes” and “innocent as doves”?

            Shrewd = be wise; understand the moment and not unnecessarily

                            provoke it (Keener); no foolishness/stupidity. Be sensible.

             Innocent = pure/unmixed intentions; prudent; integrity (Blomberg).

                               Not deceitful nor gullible. Gentleness/simplicity of spirit.

How do we see Jesus using this ministry skill? Jesus is shrewd with...

          *The rich young ruler (Mt.19:21).

          *The religious leaders (Mt.21:23-27).

          *The disciple Judas, the betrayer (Mt.26:50).

          *The Roman governor, Pilate (Mt.27:14).


How can we best be shrewd and innocent to handle 2020 surprises?

     Be alert and aware of your surroundings and situation (Ex. 1).

     Wisely guard your responses (verbal/non-verbal cues).

     Say little or nothing, and no more (Prov.17:28; Eph.4:29).

     It is better to practice situational wisdom than bravado (Acts 4).

“Believe Like a Child” (Billy Russell, 1/19/20)

“Believe Like a Child” (Billy Russell, 1/19/20)

February 27, 2020


Handling 2020 Surprises
“Believe Like a Child”

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.” (-Jesus, Mark 10:15, NIV)

We can handle the surprises the new year brings when we love no matter what (Mk.12:30-31; Rom. 12:9), and put our trust in Jesus like a child. Love and faith can carry us through whatever the new year may bring!

The Kingdom belongs to those who come to Jesus (vv.13-14).
Be careful not to hinder people from coming to Jesus.
Jesus reserves his “indignation” for gatekeepers.
Jesus does not need your gatekeeper service!
Jesus is open to all who will come to him.
We are inviters, not gatekeepers.
Like John, we point (witness) to Jesus as The Way (Jn.1:6-8).

We must receive the Kingdom of God like a child (v.15).
This is a gnomic truth: a saying w/ authority, permanence, authenticity.
A child-like faith is simple trust and confidence in Jesus.
Why do we struggle/hesitate with receiving the Kingdom like a child?
Questions- acknowledging dissonance, theodicy, mystery, challenge
Control- trusting Another in authority to provide (when you’d rather)
Pride- humility is necessary to trust Jesus
Doubt/Indecision- trusting Jesus is a step of faith (into faith) everyday

Jesus came to bless us: the weak, powerless, and needy (v.16).
It wasn’t just children Jesus came to bless, it includes us too!
We are in need of the affirming, saving, strengthening touch of Jesus!
Jesus blesses us with invitation to come to Him.
Jesus blesses us with participation in His Kingdom.
Jesus blesses us with relationship- wanting us to know we are welcome!

“Love No Matter” (Billy Russell, 1/12/20)

“Love No Matter” (Billy Russell, 1/12/20)

February 27, 2020

Handling 2020 Surprises

                                            “Love No Matter”


Love the Lord your God... Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk.12:30-31) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (Jn.15:12)

 “Love must be sincere.” (Rom.12:9)


We can count on the new year bringing unexpected surprises our way! How can we focus our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual energies in order to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in 2020 (2 Peter 3:18)?


According to Jesus, love is... our ruling thought, action, and motivation.

    Love actively reflects & practices selfless commitment, service, sacrifice.


Love must be...  “sincere” = w/o hypocrisy, genuine, real, relevant.   

                             Seeable, believable, demonstrable; winsome.


          What would living that kind of love look like? Active Family Traits:


*practice holy discernment- “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (v.9b).

                              A “holy earnestness” for what his morally upright (good).


*devoted love- “Be devoted to one another in love” (v.10a). Tenderly,

                               lovingly committed to one another.


*show honor-  “Honor one another above yourselves” (v.10b). Lead out in

                               honor, giving preference to others, out do each other.


*boundless zeal- “Never be lacking in zeal, keep up your spiritual fervor,

                             serving the Lord” (v.11). “aglow w/ the energy of the

                             Spirit” for the things of the Spirit for the Spirit’s purposes.


*joyful, prayerful perseverance- “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,

                                                    faithful in prayer” (v.12). Triad command.


*pursue hospitality- “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice

                                 hospitality” (v.13). Go out of your way to provide relief.


a 2020 Blindspot (Nathan Hamann, 1/5/20)

a 2020 Blindspot (Nathan Hamann, 1/5/20)

February 27, 2020


A 2020 Blindspot


1 Cor. 8:1-13


  1. Happy New Year!
  2. Conflicts at Corinth
    1. Paul is informed about the Nature of the Conflicts (1 Corinthians 1:10-12)
    2. Paul goes to the Heart of the Conflicts (1 Corinthians 8:1-13)
      1. “We know that we all have ‘knowledge.’” (8:1a)

        1. What kind of ‘knowledge’?
      2. “’Knowledge’ makes arrogant/puffs up, but love edifies” (8:1b)
        1. When you major on your “knowledge”, personal rights and liberty, love becomes a blindspot and the Body is torn apart.

          1. 2 ways the one with ‘knowledge’ is blind (that is, they don’t fully know as they ought to know v.2)

            1. Blind to the ruin of brothers & sisters for whose sake Christ died
            2. Blind to personal danger
          2. When you major on self-sacrificial, agape love, your eyes are opened so you can humbly pursue truth and exercise your freedoms and rights to build up the Body.
        2. “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again...”! (v.13)
  • Edifying Love and the Gospel

    1. Philippians 2:1-11
“Faith-Hope Connection” (Billy Russell, 12/22/19)

“Faith-Hope Connection” (Billy Russell, 12/22/19)

February 27, 2020

Hope for the Holidays from Hebrews (Jesus is Our Hope)

                                       “Faith-Hope Connection”


                    “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and

      assurance [conviction] about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1, NIV)


                          Exploring the Faith-Hope Connection


Faith is...confidence in what we hope for...”

                “and assurance [conviction] about what we do not see.”

      I like to simply say, faith is “living like God can be trusted.”


Hope is... the confident (assured, “the blazing certainty...” - Leon Morris)

                 expectation (anticipation) “... of God’s ultimate triumph” (Morris)

                 God (He is in it, on it, and can be relied upon for it.)

                 keeps His promises. (His word is sure in Christ despite trials!)


Ultimately, Faith in Jesus gives us hope!

     This is the Good News of Christmas: hope is personal in Jesus!

     Hope is not wishful thinking (finger-crossing/squint your eyes tight faith).

     Hope is “confident expectation God keeps His promises.”

     All the promises God made to the Ancients came true through the

          Incarnation for all those people listed in the Hall of Faith in Heb.11.


We can each have a faith/hope story (just like Abel, Abraham, etc...).

     How does your faith/hope story intertwine?

          Faith is a hope project- We believe God keeps His word in Jesus.

          Faith is a community project too. We do this together, never alone.


Put your trust in Jesus- He gives hope.

How Do You Change the World? Mobilizing the Mission (Mike Knight, 12/29/19)

How Do You Change the World? Mobilizing the Mission (Mike Knight, 12/29/19)

February 27, 2020

Matthew 9:35-38

Investing into others for the sake of the gospel will change the world.


What did Jesus teach us about impacting the world for the Gospel?

1. Jesus spent time with the people.

2. Jesus was motivated by compassion.

3. Jesus understood the severity of their spiritual need.

4. Jesus understood the urgency of the opportunity.

5. Jesus prioritized prayer.

6. Jesus knew action was necessary.


Do these things...and God will use you to "turn the world upside down."