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God With Us

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Zephaniah 3:17 says:

"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."

We serve and worship a God who is with us. No other religion even attempts to make such a claim. Religions throughout the world for all of human history have staked claims on the spiritual appetites of men and women based on some combination of proclamations promises. Though often couched in deceptively appealing ways, the messages of those religions usually go something like these: 

  • "God will bless you if you follow him."
  • "God won't punish you if you do enough to please him."
  • "God is too far away to hear you, but if you do just the right combination of sacrifices and rituals, you can reach him."
  • "You don't need a god, you need to be in touch with your inner self."
  • "Your god is and should be what you want him or her to be."
  • "There are many gods with limited power and unlimited pettiness, so good luck keeping them all happy."
  • "Knowledge is god.
  • "Pleasure is god."
  • "Happiness is god."

Not a single one outside of Christianity promises the nearness of a personal and loving God. The reason for this? It seems totally unbelievable. If you're in the business of convincing people to follow you, you can't afford to make claims that sound unbelievable....Unless you can back them up.

That's where our God comes in. He makes countless inconceivable claims about himself and then he backs each and every one up. So when Zephaniah 3:17 says the God is with us (in our midst) and that He rejoices over us with loud singing, we should not take that lightly.

What an amazing idea that the God who owns and controls everything chooses to be with us when we gather, to be with us in our sorrows and our pains and our joys, and not only chooses to be with us, but is overflowing with loud songs of rejoicing over us? This doesn't mean He is unaware of our pain or sorrow. It doesn't mean He insensitive or unperturbed by our sin, either.

It simply means that when he looks upon us, his first and greatest emotion is one of a Father who is filled with joy at the very existence of his children to the point that He's composing songs about how much he loves them. That's how God reacts when he looks upon us. And that's why we sing when we gather. Because we're responding to the singing God, who made us in His image, to respond to his initiative toward us with a joyful song of our own.

So as we come this week, let's keep the singing, rejoicing face of God in our mind's eye, and let's celebrate the unfathomable and undeserved and unlimited love of God for us.

Here are the songs and Scriptures that will make up our services this week:

Call to Worship from Zephaniah 3:17
How Deep the Father's Love for Us 
Grace Alone
Come Thou Fount
Highest Praise
Sermon from Romans 12:1-2
Take My Life

And here's a Spotify Playlist of the songs.

Posted by Tim Payne with

Community Project

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Do you think of your church as a community center or community project? Do you think of your church as a place where other people are working to make services available to you and your family and sometimes you're asked to help out, too? Or do you think of your church as the people participating in those services together?

If we're not careful, we can think of church as a place, or as an event. But the Church is a living, breathing community of God's children being knit together by the work of God in and through each of them on a personal and relational level, where each and every person involved is vital to the vitality of the whole.

Our God is a relational God. For eternity past, the Trinity has been in perfect and unbroken community - Father, Son, and Spirit. It is an outflow of the loving community of the Trinity that results in Creation...and ultimately in the sacrificial reclamation of sinful people like you and me out of the grasp and sin and darkness into the glorious light of community with God for all eternity. 

The tangible expression of that fellowship to a lost and dying world is local churches living in sacrificial, loving, joyful community together. 

Our local church is a community project. It takes every one of us actively pursuing community together in order for us to completely fulfill our purpose. And without one another, we cannot do what God has called us to do - reflect the Light of Life in the darkness of our world. 

So as we gather this weekend, let us do so with expectation that we will be served and encouraged and taught and exhorted. But let's also do it with the awareness that we're needed...that apart from each of us participating - apart from each one of us making our unique contribution based on the gifts God has generously given to us - the reflection of God's glory emanating out from this church body to a watching world is not as poignant as it ought to be.

And no matter what contribution you expect to be capable of making this weekend, don't fail to make it with joy on your face and thankfulness in your heart that God has given you a local community in which to live out the purpose for which He placed each one of us on earth. What a privilege it is to gather to participate in the public celebration of the union with God through Christ that we all enjoy!

Here are the songs we'll sing and the Scriptures that will make up our service this week.

Call to Worship from Ephesians 5:17-20
Here For You
How Great Thou Art
Not In Me
Shine Into Our Night
Build Your Kingdom Here
Sermon from Hebrews 10:19-25
He Will Hold Me Fast
 
And here's a Spotify Playlist of those songs so you can sing freely with us on Sunday!
Posted by Tim Payne with

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