[Weekly - Su/M] What did you learn/teach at church?


Speaking of Prayer... in our Mini Kids program this Sunday, we were talking about Prayer with our 3-5 year olds. We discussed that the word prayer means talking to God. We can talk to God Any Time... Any Place. And the Great thing about talking to God... He's never too busy to hear what we have to say and to speak back with us. Sometimes we want to say something to our Moms and Dads but we have to wait because they're busy in the middle of something else. Or sometimes we want to show our parents something and we need to wait till they're finished doing another project or something more important. The cool thing about God is that He will never tell you something is more important than taking the time to talk with you. He'll never say... "hey kid talk to me tomorrow about this becuase I'm too busy right now."

I'm reminded of the Story in the Bible where Elijah was being challenged by the prophets of Baal.

1 Kings 18:26-27, 29
26 So the prophets of Baal took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." 29 Midday passed, and they kept on raving until the time of the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

For those of you that know the rest of the story, you know that when Elijah called on the one true God... he answered not only right away but with power! God sent fire to burn up the sacrifice that had even been doused with water!

In Review:

  • Prayer is talking to God
  • You can talk to God Any Where, Any Time
  • God is Never too busy to talk with you
Our new pastor taught on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 this past Sunday and used the passage to help establish goals for our church, such as being centered on the Gospel and serving faithfully out of love.
Our new pastor (still new!) continued his series on Joshua and his leading the Israelites in to the Promised Land. He taught from Joshua 4 and the importance of spiritual markers (like the memorial of 12 stones brought up from the Jordan River) as well as the importance of also pressing onward, rather than focusing too intently on the past. God has done great things, He is doing great things, and He will do great things!
Our pastor said something during the morning service on Sunday that really stuck with me. He said, "I want to be near Him, so I can hear Him." The more I have thought about it this week, the more I like it. Our lives are so busy, with so many distractions, it's really easy to get pulled away to other things. Maybe I'm missing something that God has for me simply because I'm not walking close enough to Him to hear it? I don't want to miss anything that God has for me! It's nothing new, but something familiar, stated in a different way, can be very eye opening sometimes.
Our new pastor started a new series on the life of Joseph and how his story teaches us how to handle life's unexpected turns.

One great example: Joseph's story teaches us that difficulties in life don't mean that we can't end well. We, like Joseph, can choose to continue trusting in God even when circumstances look awful. (I mean, how many of us have been thrown in to a pit then sold in to slavery by our brothers?)

And while this was only briefly touched on in the sermon, I feel compelled to point out one my favorite lessons from Joseph's story: IF YOU PLAY FAVORITES WITH YOUR KIDS, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME. (Finally, I had an excuse to post that and be on-topic.)
Our guest speaker taught on Mark 2:1-12 and the story of the four friends bringing the paralyzed man to Jesus. The speaker challenged the congregation to find ourselves in one of the 5 groups represented in the story (the 4 friends who led a friend to Jesus at great sacrifice, the paralyzed man who needed healing and salvation, the Pharisees, the observers, and those truly seeking Jesus).
We're in the middle of a sermon series that's chiefly about the Holy Spirit since we tend to have misunderstandings, or don't even try to understand the Spirit in the first place. This week continued in that series, but a big takeaway for me (at least in answering the "what did you learn?" question) was a challenge to pray boldly. The pastor effectively asked, "Are your prayers 'thank You for this food,' or are they 'we believe You can and will do great things!'?" I mean, this was part of a bigger issue of our faith and whether we believe God can and does actively involve Himself, sometimes dramatically, in our lives, but that challenge has stuck.
Not from church proper but from small group afterward, felt challenged in our talk about the David and Goliath story that Saul was off, chillin', looking for someone to go fight Goliath. Meanwhile, he was not just the leader of the people, but the most fitting candidate to take on Goliath.

Made me go, "How often am I the guy in the right place at the right time, prepped to do something, and I go hoping for a David to show up and do it instead?"
Our pastor concluded a series on the life of Joseph and talked about his final years, his death, and his legacy. He pointed out that the New Testament highlights his faith that God would keep His promise to His people, which is telling because there are so many moments from Joseph's life that could have been included in the "faith hall of fame" chapter of Hebrews instead.

It was unusual and refreshing to hear a pastor speak candidly on death from the pulpit. I don't think of myself as morbid, but I've long held that coming to terms with our own mortality is crucial for living our life to the fullest during the few days we get on earth. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for good small talk, but I digress. 'Twas a great sermon to finish out a great series!
Finished up the series on the Holy Spirit by talking about His work of conviction and transformation. The pastor focused on Psalm 139:23-24 and concluded with a challenge for people to pray it for a week. I said I would take the challenge. Not expecting an easy week now. XD

Psalm 139:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts![a]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting![b]
Our pastor continued his series on a passage in Ephesians 4 (specifically, Ephesians 4:4-6) that helps define what units us as a church: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Today's sermon was on baptism and our pastor explained what baptism is and is not.
Our pastor started a new series on Advent today, with this morning's message focusing on hope. The text was Luke 2:22-28 and the pastor used Simeon and Anna as examples of people looking forward to the Messiah with hope. Similarly, we look forward to Christ's second coming with hope.
Our pastor's second message in a series on Advent focused on God's love. He started by reading 1 John 3:1 and references several other passages on the nature of God's love.
Joy was the topic for our pastor's third message in an Advent series. Luke 2:1-11 was the main text for the sermon.
Our pastor continued his series on Jonah this week with a focus on what repentance looks like as demonstrated by the people in Nineveh in chapter 3.
Our church building, like many church buildings around the country, was closed this last Sunday at the recommendation of the CDC. Our church livestreamed our pastor's message on how Christians should live in complicated times. He reminded us that God is in control and encouraged us to be prayerful before God, sensible toward our circumstances, and helpful toward others.
This last week, our pastor started a new series on the scattered early church. The main text for last week's sermon was 1 Peter chapters 1 and 2.

Based on the text, the pastor gave 3 helpful instructions to keep us on course when we are physically distant from fellow believers:
  1. Remember whose we are. We belong to God.
  2. Remember who we are. We are representatives of God in this world and recipients of God's grace in the work and life of Christ.
  3. Remember what you have. We have hope in Christ and a wonderful eternity in God's presence when this life ends.
Last Sunday (7/12, not 7/19), our pastor taught on 1 Peter 2 with a focus on employer-employee relationships. One repeated theme of the sermon was that our call to holiness is not optional nor is it conditional based on how your employer treats you.