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Opportunities Like Never Before

Sunday, January 06, 2019

We have almost completed the first week of the new year. Tomorrow begins the first full work-week of 2019, and for many of us, life will return to a sense of normalcy after the long holiday period. Usually the weeks around Christmas and New Years are characterized by reflection, evaluation, and goals for the future. I know this has been on our mind here at Kettering as we began our new curriculum year last month and have focused on self-evaluation, etc. I expect most of us have taken a hard look at where we are spiritually and have resolved to strengthen what is weak and cultivate our strengths as we move into a new year.

Your opportunities for spiritual growth abound … like never before … in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a decade ago.

While the Bible remains the same, its availability to us grows every day. Chances are that you own a smart phone, and if you do it is likely you have the Bible wherever you go. If you have a Bible app installed you are literally seconds away from accessing God’s word. Task and calendar programs can be set up to automatically remind you of reading a passage, taking time out to pray, or intentionally scheduling five minutes of quiet time for reflection and meditation. Some programs will even read your selected text for you, allowing you to take in God’s word in the car, on your bike, or while you’re walking. Putting these things into practice may involve some changes, like getting up thirty minutes earlier each day, or actually putting the reminders in your mobile device. (If you don’t have a Bible app already and use an iOS device, see me for what app I use and recommend.)

In your email inBox this morning, you have already received the Daily Bible Reading Schedule for this week. It contains a short devotional written by Gary Henry that sets the tone and direction for the week. Every Monday through Friday you will receive a short reminder detailing that day’s reading, the key point to consider, discussion questions if you choose to have a devotional with your family, and a short reading from the wisdom literature. (If you’re not into email, a paper copy of the schedule will be printed every week and left inside the front entryway.)

One of the best ways to facilitate your personal spiritual growth is to be in the word … outside of the worship assembly and Bible class. Resolve today to make this a top priority as you focus the new year.

— Matthew Allen

Whoever is of God Hears the Words of God

Friday, January 04, 2019

Whoever is of God Hears the Words of God

Self examination has always been difficult - but it is extremely hard in post-modern culture. We have largely, as a culture, become so open-minded that we stand for nothing. If there is a sin, it is operating with moral and religious certainty and authority. In the minds of some, sin is the preaching of Christian principles with conviction. 

As we’ll see on Sunday, everything begins with a Biblical worldview. We must have the belief that God’s word is inspired, infallible, and authoritative. We must possess a commitment to one way - God’s way. 

In reality, it’s all that matters - if we have fully committed to allowing Christ to reign over our heart.

On Sunday we’ll identify six words with truth:

  1. Objectivity
  2. Rationality
  3. Veracity
  4. Authority
  5. Incompatibility
  6. Integrity

As you get ready for worship, be thinking about these things:

  • What are some of your experiences with post-modern thought?
  • Why do you think it is so important to have a Biblical worldview?
  • What does objectivity mean?
  • What are some ways we can eliminate personal bias as we study God’s word?
  • What is the purpose of law?

Sunday Song Leader: Randy Mullins

Sunday Scripture Reading: Rich Jacobs

TEXT: John 8.39-47

How the Early Church Endured Adversity

Monday, December 31, 2018

As we’ll see in today’s sermon, there are multiple forces working to suppress and even harass believers who exercise their faith in the public arena. Going forward, we will have to exercise wisdom and discernment in order to interact effectively inside the growing new reality.

We are not the first generation to experience hostility. How did the early Christians handle adversity? The Letter to Diognetus is dated to ~130 AD. It was written by someone who used the name Mathetes (not a proper name but the Greek word for disciple). Scholars believe it was either a personal letter written to defend the Christian faith or a formal written defense to a judge. Whoever the author was, he identifies himself as a “disciple of the apostles.” In Chapter 5 he describes the behavior of the early Christians living with the unpleasant reality of mistreatment and persecution:

They obey the laws that men make, but their lives are better than the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, yet are more alive than ever. They are paupers, but they make many rich. They lack all things, and yet in all things they abound. They are dishonored, yet glory in their dishonor. They are maligned, and yet are vindicated. They are reviled, and yet they bless. They suffer insult, yet they pay respect. They do good, yet are punished with the wicked. When they are punished, they rejoice, as though they were getting more of life. They are attacked by the Jews as Gentiles and are persecuted by the Greeks, yet those who hate them can give no reason for their hatred.

What a great testimony to the faith and steadfastness of the early church! May we resolve to remain true to God and His word no matter how society’s perceptions and actions regarding Christianity change. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life, Revelation 2.10.

— Matthew Allen

We Rejoice in the Hope of the Glory of God

Monday, December 24, 2018

The opening verses of Romans 5 are some of the most beloved of Paul’s writing. Here, Paul is bringing to conclusion the first section of his letter, where he makes the stunning assertion that salvation is by faith and not by a system of law. We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3.24. Because of this fact, Paul makes the following conclusions in the opening verses of chapter 5:

  • We have peace with God.
  • We have access to the grace in which we stand.
  • We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which will not put us to shame. You can entrust your soul with God. He will not let you down.
  • We enjoy the love of God, which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

This is just amazing language. And to think that it applies to those who were once ungodly sinners and enemies of God, 5.6-10. His love is inexplicable and defies human logic. Over and over again, God’s word proclaims this marvelous fact.

As you pause from your normal routine this week, be sure to give thanks for the grace in which you now stand. Because Jesus came, you have received grace after grace, John 1.16. You are literally engulfed in it. His grace did not stop at the cross. You live in it everyday. His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, Lamentations 3.22b-23a. It was Isaiah who wrote, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be come like wool, Isaiah 1.18. Our sins have been forgiven and we stand before Him pure, righteous, and holy.

Where would we be without Jesus? He is the one who fuels our life with hope. If you haven’t received these promises, can we help you? It would be our greatest privilege and honor to share the good news of the gospel with you.

— Matthew Allen

Living Inside a Hostile Anti-Christian Culture

Friday, December 21, 2018

Living Inside a Hostile Anti-Christian Culture

66% of Americans who attend church regularly, read their Bible, and pray have experienced the negativity of others directed at their faith-based beliefs. For servants in the church, ministry has become more difficult than ever because people are increasingly hostile and negative toward Christianity. 

This is not the world it was a half-century or quarter-century ago. We have now had at least two generations raised with a secular mindset. What does this mean for the church going forward?

On Sunday we’ll:

  1. Explore statistics that demonstrate the reality of the problem we face.
  2. Reveal some growing perceptions some have about Christianity
  3. Discuss possible solutions as we become more acquainted with our environment.

As you get ready for worship, be thinking about these things:

  • What are some ways you have experienced hostility toward your Christianity?
  • What are some measures you can take to not reinforce any negative perceptions people hold toward Christianity?
  • How can we deflate the idea that Christianity is out of touch?
  • Why is it so important to build relationships with people outside of Christ?

Sunday Song Leader: Roy Pyle

Sunday Scripture Reading: Jason Pratt

TEXT: 1 Peter 1.13-19

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