Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Gift of God's Law

As we enter into March we also enter into a new teaching series at Grace Church. The Gift of God's Law will introduce us into the biblical topic of God's law. And it will aim to shed light not only on why God gives his people law, but also on what his various laws actually invite us to do.

The good news of the Gospel of God's Kingdom is that everyone is welcome to come into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23-25); and this invitation to enter the Kingdom is a gift. But, although all are welcome to freely enter, no one may enter on their own terms or in their own way. There is a King. Therefore, there is a law. There is a right way to live. And this too is a gift.

Come and see. Let's discover the gift of God's law together.

...this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome...
1 John 5:3

March 1st - The Law + The Mess
Heath will be sharing on how God's law is a gift. It aims to keep sin at bay and it continually invites to live life as it was meant to be (Psalm 119).

March 8th - The Law + Belonging 
Chuch will be sharing on the 1st commandment (Exodus 20:3) and how it creates a paradigm to understand the entirety of God's law.

March 15th - The Law + Love
Heath will be sharing on how love is the summation of the law for all time and in every culture (Matthew 22:36-40).

March 22nd - The Law + A City on a Hill
John will be sharing on how God's law propels us to speak and display truth, grace, and justice -- to be a people of influence and renewal (Matthew 5:14-16).

March 29th - The Law + The Shalom of God
Heath will be sharing on how the law exposes our sinful inadequacies and reveals our need for Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-25). 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

LENT: 40 Days of Renewal

This Wednesday, February 18th, is Ash Wednesday. Followed by Fat Tuesday (Madi Gras), Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the annual Lenten Season. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a special period of fasting, repentance, personal study, moderation, and spiritual discipline. Of course, these activities can be observed any time of the year, but the purpose of doing during the 40 days of Lent is to set aside additional and particular time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. (40 is a symbolic number often associated with sacrifice and the faithfulness of God - e.g., Israel's 40 years in the wilderness and Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11.) The 40 days of Lent are to be marked by repentance and personal sacrifice. Ash is sometimes rubbed on the foreheads of Christians during Ash Wednesday services as a sign of repentance (e.g., 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21).

As with all liturgical season, Lent can be legalistically observed. There are no biblical warrants to observe it and it should be observed out of choice, not any sort of obligation. Elliot Grudem articulates it well, "...any special attention to the Lenten Season that honors God must include heart-level repentance and real faith, not external obedience to church tradition. So the Lenten Season and its encouragement to take an extended time to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ provides us with an opportunity to honor God...There can be a real value in marking this season, but only if done with a heart that seeks to honor God."

Lent is a time when Christians can annually connect with their heritage and their fellow Christians around the world. It's a unique opportunity to live out the "oneness" expressed in Christ's prayer in John 17 as we, together, journey through Lent, asking ask—are there things here that we need to die to? Are there habits, thoughts, and patterns of living in our lives that aren’t consistent with the life God intended us to live? At the same time, it is a time for Christians everywhere to accept the life and grace that God extends to us—celebrating the cross and resurrection as God’s definitive act of redemption in the world.

May this Lenten Season be a rich time growth as you prepare to celebrate the RESURRECTION!

Here are some great articles on why we celebrate Lent:

Also, here are some ideas to help shape the way you might choose to observe Lent this year: