On Sunday, we discovered the way to avoid selling our inheritance for a bowl of soup is to “be thankful” (Hebrews 12:28).
I gave you several questions to help guide us towards thanksgiving. We went through them fairly quickly so I am posting them on the blog so you can take time to reflect again. Unfortunately, I don’t think I did the list exactly the same in every service so it may look slightly different from your notes.
Questions to help us appreciate God:
How did God come find you? How did he pursue and rescue you?
Where would you be if God hadn’t rescued you? What would your life look like without the Spirit?
What are the things since you became a Christian that God has forgiven you for?
What are the current blessings in your life?
Who are other people in your life that you have seen God rescue and transform?
How has God been with you, especially in suffering?
How has God healed you – physically, spiritually and/or emotionally?
How have your experienced the discipline of God?
What are the ways that God has blessed you through your involvement at Calvary or other churches?
What are specific prayers that God has answered?
What are the things you are most looking forward to in God’s kingdom?
Thankfulness and gratitude help us keep our eyes on Jesus, which is the theme of the song A Mighty Fortress, that we sang at the beginning of the service. Here it is again to encourage you on your journey of gratitude this week.
We have been talking a lot about Grace Beyond at Calvary this year as we continue to seek the Lord regarding his plan for our proposed building project. Several weeks ago, Kent and Amy shared their Grace Beyond story during the worship service. I posted it here in case you did not see it.
Grace Beyond is a building project, but it is more than a building project as Kent and Amy’s story so beautifully details. It is extending the grace we receive to others…even to a little girl who lives in China and needs a place to call home.
As we move forward with Grace Beyond, we will be sharing even more glimpses of grace.
On Sunday we were reminded through the amazing testimony of our friends Josh and Shelly Buck about God’s grace to us. Jim’s summarized both their story, as well as each of our stories, with the following paraphrase of our benediction:
God is taking each and every one of us who are believers in Jesus on a journey through life. That journey will by definition involve suffering and difficulty, but God’s grace and his power will lead us safely through.
If you want more information about Josh and Shelly Buck Ministries, you can click on the logo or visit joshandshellybuck.org.
This statue stands in the courtyard of the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (or “cock’s crow”), which was built on the site of the Caiaphas’ House in Jerusalem where Jesus was held the night before his crucifixion and the site of Peter’s denial.
The inscription from Luke 22:57 “Non novi ileum” means “I do not know the man.”
It is a beautiful and moving depiction of Peter’s denial. Take time to notice the various elements of the story that the sculptor artfully incorporates into the sculpture.
Our topic in church this week was hospitality. Peter’s main idea behind his encouragement to practice hospitality is the emphasis on welcoming strangers into your life – especially the disadvantaged or suffering – not on the basis of what they can provide to you, but on the basis of how you can serve them (Matthew 25:35, 43).
Historically, hospitality within the Christian community was absolutely essential in fostering family ties among new believers and reshaping their identities as Christians. Hospitality also serves as a visual representation of the gospel, drawing non-believers toward faith as they see it practiced.
If the sermon about hospitality stirs in you a desire to want to study more about this ancient biblical practice, I encourage you to read Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl.
In this rich and profound book, Pohl traces the history of Christian hospitality from the Old Testament through contemporary expressions of this discipline. She also provides a strong biblical theology of the biblical command from I Peter 4:9 to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
In her book, Pohl reminds us that:
As a way of life, an act of love, an expression of faith, our hospitality reflects and anticipates God’s welcome. Simultaneously costly and wonderfully rewarding, hospitality often involves small deaths and little resurrections. By God’s grace we can grow more willing, more eager, to open the door to a needy neighbor, a weary sister or brother, a stranger in distress. Perhaps as we open that door more regularly, we will grow increasingly sensitive to the quiet knock of angels. In the midst of a life-giving practice, we too might catch glimpses of Jesus who asks for our welcome and welcomes us home.
In the sermon this week, I referenced an article in the Grand Rapids Press about Sarah Farkas, a courageous woman from Zeeland, Mich., who donated one of her kidneys to fellow church member Duke Guy this month.
If you did not hear the sermon, the article detailed her experience:
One day in May, she sat on her couch, praying. She included a specific request for a kidney donor for Guy.
That’s when she heard God’s voice.
“It was very, very clear,” she said. “It was a question. He said, ‘Why don’t you give him one of yours?’”
Farkas immediately began to shake and weep. She fell forward to her knees, flooded with feelings of warmth and peace.
“It just dawned on me that, wow, I was in the presence of God,” she said.
This beautiful new Christmas song, You Came Like Winter Snow, shares the same theme and idea of our service this week.
Jesus could have come to earth in any form but he chose to come quietly and live a difficult life for many reasons but ultimately to give us the hope of heaven. Not because he didn’t have a choice but because we had no other choice.
From our family to yours – have a blessed and joyous Christmas,