Keeping Faith in An Age of Unbelief

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This Sunday we will begin a new series in the book of 1 Thessalonians: Keeping Faith in the Age of Unbelief. 1 Thessalonians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul (along with his ministry team) and is one of the earliest documents written in the New Testament. In Acts 17 we learn that Paul preached the Gospel in Thessalonica and some believed. This small group of believers formed the early seeds of the Thessalonian church. Well before he wanted to move on Paul was forced to leave by the intense persecution of the Jewish leaders. As we read 1 Thessalonians, we see how difficult this premature departure was for Paul. He feared that the pressures from both the Jews and idolatrous Greek’s would lead these infant believers to loose faith. It is out of this loving concern for the Thessalonian church that Paul writes this letter. We will see throughout the letter that Paul desires to strengthen and encourage them to keep the faith as they live in the last days. They will encounter persecution, conflict, discouragement, temptations, and alluring idols, but their real hope is to persevere in the faith he delivered to them. They lived in a time when the kingdom has been inaugurated but is yet to be fully realized. The difficulty they faced is the tension of living between the already but not yet.

In our day, we face the same challenges of keeping faith. Just as the Thessalonians face external temptations (both religious and idolatrous), we face the same. Both of us live in what the Bible calls the last days (the tension between the already and not-yet of the Kingdom). In our modern age of technology and progress faith is often seen as antiquated and unneeded. Along with this, many churches have become swept up in this age of unbelief and have lost their distinction from the surrounding culture. The church has often been far from what the scriptures instruct it to be. From corruption in church leadership to crazy charts about end times chaos to questioning the authority of the apostles teaching, there are many compelling reasons to doubt the Christian faith. Because of this and a variety of other reasons, many people have abandoned the Christian faith. Although the temptation is real, we believe the answer is not losing faith but rather a rediscovery of the ancient faith passed on to us through the church and in the scriptures. In this series we will dig into the this ancient letter from Paul as it helps give us clarity and courage to keep faith in Jesus. As we do we will address skeptics, sinners, and saints as we seek God’s help to keep faith in an age of unbelief.

We have several resources to help you engage this sermon series.

ESV Scripture Journal - We recommend purchasing an ESV Scripture journal to take notes, mark up, and take with you for group discussions. You can purchase them from Amazon HERE.

1 Thessalonians Prayer Guide - We want to invite you to join our leaders in praying for our church during this series. Paul’s hope for the Thessalonians to keep faith included both his instruction to them and his prayers on their behalf. This guide contains the three main prayers Paul prays for the Thessalonian church along with instructions on how you can pray for our local church. You can pickup a copy at the resource table or download the PDF HERE.

Reflection Guides - Each week we will post a reflection guide that helps us to reflect on the previous weeks sermon passage. These will typically be posted by Monday and are helpful to use with your DNA group or MC discussion.

Worship Guides - As we do with each series we will have a worship guide available to pickup at the Sunday gathering. This will give you the scriptures we are covering in advance and some of the other elements of liturgy in our gathering. We hope these help you better prepare for our time of worship together.

Sermon Schedule:

September 23rd - A Church to Be Thankful For - 1 Thess. 1:1-10

September 30th - Rethinking Leadership: Lessons From A Spiritual Father - 1 Thess. 2:1-12

October 7th - The Authority of the Word - 1 Thess. 2:13-20

October 14th - Pain, Suffering, and the Temptation to Lose Faith - 1 Thess. 3:1-13

October 21st - The Way of Jesus (4:1-2): Sexual Sin - 1 Thess 4:1-8

October 28th - The Way of Jesus (4:1-2): Loving Well & Working Hard - 1 Thess. 4:9-12

November 4th - Death and the Resurrection of the Body - 1 Thess. 4:13-15

November 11th - The Return of Christ - 1 Thess. 4:16-5:11

November 18th - A Community of Counsel and Care - 1 Thess. 5:13-14

November 25th - Final Instructions for Keeping the Faith - 1 Thess. 5:15-18

Reflection Guide: A People of Generosity

Main Idea - This week we considered what it might look like to be a people of generosity in a culture of excess. You can listen to the podcast here.

Read through the following passages: 1 Timothy 6:17-19, James 2:1-17

Discuss the questions below with your MC or DNA group.

  1. What is our suburban cultures predominate view on wealth and material goods? How has living in this culture shaped your own views of “the good life?”
  2. What are some of the dangers Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 facing those who are rich? What part of his warning hits home with you?
  3. How does the Gospel free us from the chains of greed/excess and create in us generous hearts? What Gospel truth do you need to cling to when you’re tempted towards excess or greed?
  4. Take a minute to consider the resources God has given you (Time, Talent, Treasure). What area do you sense the Spirit leading you towards generosity (Community, Church, Needy)
  5. Where might there be needs that your excess resources can serve others? What needs do you have that others might be able to help with?
  6. 1 Timothy 6:19 says, “storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.” Spend some time meditating on this verse. How might this motivate our hearts to increasingly practice generosity?

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Kids Worship Questions

  1. Can you think of something you have that you don’t like to share? Maybe your time, toys, or money? Why do you think it is hard for people to share with others?
  2. When we get a lot of stuff (toys, money, gifts, etc.) we are prone to get proud of our stuff and feel secure because of our stuff. Can you think of an example of this in your life? How does trusting Jesus help us?
  3. The bible tells us that if we are given many riches that we should see this as an opportunity to share with many. What has God given you and your family? What might it look like to share what you have with those in need?

Reflection Guide: A People of Creativity

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Main Idea: This week we considered what it might look like to be a people of creativity in a culture of consumption. You can listen to the podcast here.

Read through the following passages: Genesis 2:4–14, Genesis 1:26–31, Ephesians 3:8–10

Discuss the questions below with your MC or DNA group.

  1. What can we learn about God through these passages in Genesis? What role does God play in creation? What role are humans given?
  2. God gives human beings the task of creating (with the materials God had placed in the creation) for life and beauty. Why are both of these important?
  3. What are some poor motivations for working to create for life and beauty? How do these lead to distorting God’s original purposes? Examples from society? Your life?
  4. How has God gifted you to create? How might your gifts contribute to the churches task of reflecting the creativity of God (creating life and beauty that displays the glory of God)?
  5. As you have considered theses scriptures and listened to the sermon, is there anything you sense the Spirit leading you to confess and turn from? Stop to confess together, encourage one another, and pray for God’s help.

Reflection Guide: A People of Compassion

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KEY POINTS FROM SERMON:

  • By God’s grace, we hope to be a people compassion in a culture of condemnation.
  • Understanding biblical compassion starts with God. The Bible tells us that God, himself, is compassionate. (Psalm 51:1) (Psalm 86:15)
  • The compassion of God is love that enacts mercy. This is why Isaiah says “shout for joy!”, because God is compassionate toward creation. He loves his creation and has acted with mercy toward it.
  • Jesus did not come into this world to condemn the world (John 3:16-19). He says the world is already condemned. The world is already busted up and broken with sin. He didn’t come here to kick us while we are down, we know we’re broken.
  • Jesus came to save the world. Jesus didn’t stay at a safe distance and say, get your act together and then come over here with me. No, he enters in with love. If the way of condemnation is to prescribe a narrative to someone based on an external judgment, then Jesus is going to show us the way of compassion is to withhold judgment until you enter in. Rather than prescribing a narrative from a distance, the way of Jesus is to enter into their story as an agent of love and mercy.
  • He heals the leaper (Mark 1:39-42). He welcomes the sinner at his table (Mark 2:13-17). He is broken-hearted for the proud (Mark 3:1-6). Jesus doesn’t see them first and foremost in light of what they do or fail to do, he sees them all in light of what they suffer. They suffer from the human condition. Broken sinful people in a broken sinful world. There is always something deeper going on with people. Our sin is real. And it leads to real struggles and real shame in our lives. And you know this. Jesus sees us in light of what we suffer.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience - Colossians 3:12 (CSB)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What is biblical compassion?
  2. How does Jesus teach us compassion in his life and ministry?
  3. What areas of your life do you struggle with compassion? Who and what are you quick to critic or condemn?
  4. How does the gospel enable us to "put on compassion"?

Practice - Cultivate compassion this week by learning the story of one person in your life who is different from you.

Reflection Guide: A People of Presence

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KEY POINTS FROM SERMON:

  • By God’s grace, we hope to be a people of Presence in a culture of disconnection.
  • Presence - When we say we want to be a people of presence, we don’t just mean a people who are physically present (just showing up). We mean a people who are wholeheartedly present with others, a people who are lovingly present to God and others. It is this kind of presence that cultivates loving relationships.
  • We often get stuck in Patterns of disconnect. Two ways I see this often playing out: 1) PRIDE - When we share the table with a prideful presence, we often experience their need to control us, correct us, and ultimately pass judgment on us. You can see how this kind of presence leads to a disconnect in our relationships. 2) PREOCCUPATION - There are others who fail to connect due to their preoccupation with work, sports, or something that puts their mind in one place while their body is in another.
  • What are the PRIDEFUL or PREOCCUPIED patterns that keep you from being lovingly and wholeheartedly present to God and others? Consider Colossians 3:5-15. What patterns needing to be put off do you see at work in your relationships? What patterns do you long to put on more often?
  • The good news is that Jesus offers us forgiveness, hope, and shows us a way forward. When our relational connection with God was fractured by sin, God sends his son Jesus to reconnect us to God. Our sin kept us disconnected from God, but God loved us so much that at the cost of his life he dies to bring us back to God.
  • The Apostle Paul was a man who encountered the loving presence of Christ and was now sent to share of this presence and teach churches how to live in this way. In Romans 12:9-18, Paul lays out a treasury of ancient wisdom that lays out a path towards loving presence, of relationally connecting not disconnect. Practically, the table provides a great space for us to practice being lovingly present.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 1 Peter 4:8–9 (CSB)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What kind of presence are you in the life of your spouse, children, co-workers, and friends? What patterns of pride or preoccupation have caused relational disconnect for you (your own patterns not others)?
  2. What people in your life have modeled a loving presence to you? How has this impacted your love for Jesus?
  3. Stop and read Colossians 3:5-15 together. What is one-way area of the relational qualities we are to “put on” that you desire to grow in? What is one negative aspect that you need the Spirit’s help to put away? Confess this to God and pray for one another.
  4. How might the Spirit be leading you to extend the loving presence of Christ through hospitality? Who are the lonely or isolated people whom you could invite to your table?

Practice - Cultivate presence this week by having undistracted meals where you focus on engaging with others in conversation.

Reflection Guide: A People of Gratitude

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KEY POINTS FROM SERMON:

  • By God’s grace, we hope to be a people of Gratitude in a culture of complaint.
  • Israel’s complaining in the wilderness (Exodus 15-17) shows how we as human beings struggle to trust God in difficult circumstances. We are prone towards grumbling and complaining.
  • Complaining is an attitude of grumbling that has given into hopelessness. We grow cynical towards God’s goodness and ability to meet our needs. Complaining doesn’t change our situation nor does it heal our hearts. Complaint keeps us stuck and multiplies our misery. Have you noticed that? The more people complain the more miserable they become. All complaints are ultimately our pointing the cynical finger at God blaming him for our discontentment and misfortune. At the heart of complaining is a belief that God is the one blamed for all the problems in the world rather than the one to be thanked for all its goodness.
  • How do we grow into a people of Gratitude when it seems so easy is to be a people of complaint? To grow into a people of Gratitude we must walk the path of lament and thanksgiving. Lament means taking our pains and needs to God trusting his goodness and power to act on our behalf. Thanksgiving is stopping to give God praise for His love for us in Jesus and the many good gifts he has given us. Both the practices of lament and thanksgiving are enabled by our increasing trust in the Gospel.
  • “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” - Thomas Merton

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. - Psalm 107:1 (CSB)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What are the areas of life you tend to complain about (especially in the last few weeks)? How might these complaints reveal your own frustrations or fears about God?
  2. If we want to grow in Gratitude to God we must learn the prayer language of Lament and Thanksgiving (praise). Why is it important that we embrace both of these?
  3. What are some of the struggles or difficulties you are facing right now? Rather than complaining about them, what might it look like for you to bring them to God in prayer? This might be something that your group needs to pray together or something individually that you need to spend time lamenting to God in private.
  4. Read Ephesians 1. What spiritual blessings do we have in Christ? Stop to give God praise. and thanks together. What everyday gifts has God given you? Stop to give God praise.
  5. How can you help one another continue to turn away from complaining and cultivate Gratitude to God?

Practice - Cultivate gratitude this week by journaling about one thing you are thankful for each day.

Reflection Guide: A People of Prayer

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KEY POINTS FROM SERMON:

  • We are immersed in a culture of distraction. One prominent example of this is how our smartphones have invaded every area of our life. When the boredom, pain, and stress of life hit, we are quick to escape into our devices. If not our devices, we will find something else to busy our minds. Our entire life can easily drift into a distraction from God’s presence and power.
  • Our vulnerability to distraction is symptomatic of the deeper issues of our heart. We were made to converse and commune with God and yet we sense something is off. Our shame and guilt keep God at a distance. Rather than seeking God, we have all sought to run from him and distract ourselves from this dysfunction.
  • There was a tension, a rift between us and God but the Gospel tells us we don’t have to run away, distract ourselves from our pain and frailty. By faith in Jesus, we freely receive God’s loving presence restored in us. We can trust his loving presence and power to meet our needs, even to raise us from the ultimate enemy, death.
  • Prayer, an ongoing communion, and conversation with God, only makes sense if we trust what the Gospel tells us. Because of Christ work on our behalf, God is now lovingly present and powerful with us. He is near, he is listening, and he has offered his help to his children. Being a people of prayer doesn’t mean we are simply religious and speak impressively to God. It means we are learning to live our lives trusting in that God is intimately near, constantly present and powerful. We are no longer empty but filled, not alone but accompanied in all things, not cast off but brought near, not estranged but beloved, not numb but alive. And when we drift away from home, prayer brings us back into the reality of God’s presence.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. When I think of you as I lie on my bed, I meditate on you during the night watches 7 because you are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings. I follow close to you; your right hand holds on to me. Psalm 63:1-8 (CSB)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What is your current relationship with your smartphone? Are you aware of how your interaction with it is shaping you?
  2. What other distractions can you identify in your life? What are some of the distractions that keep you from spending time in prayer (both praying along the way and set aside times)? How might God be leading you to give focused attention to prayer within the limits of your current stage of life?
  3. Read John 14:18–26. How does the Gospel give us a foundation for a life of prayer?
  4. What areas or scenarios in your life do you find yourself most easily forgetting God’s presence and power? How might the Spirit be inviting you to grow in this?

PRACTICE - Cultivate prayer this week by putting away one distraction (iPhone, Entertainment, CNN, Talk radio, etc.) in order to better listen to God in prayer.

Redeemer is a Gospel-centered missional family learning and living the way of Jesus in the suburbs of Austin. This is the identity, by God’s grace, we hope to live into. Learning and living the way of Jesus together leads us to swim against the stream of our culture for the sake of our culture. We are called by God to live a Kingdom way of life, to embody a Kingdom culture. This means first learning the way of Jesus, and then putting that way into practice as we live. As we begin participating in the Kingdom of God we will find ourselves in conflict with the Kingdom of man. Not in everything, but no doubt each culture has areas that the Kingdom of God opposes.

In our seven culture statements, we have highlighted what we believe are seven important ways that living in a kingdom culture brings us into conflict with our unique suburban culture. All of us have been heavily shaped by the values of our culture, in fact, we often don’t realize we are naturally participating in a certain system because it is like the air we breath. We might even adopt Christian concepts and language but our beliefs are still heavily shaped by our culture. Our hope each week in this series is to expose a bit of the cultural water we are swimming in, show from the scriptures how the Kingdom of God is different, and then invite you to follow Jesus into a new way of living. We are praying that the Holy Spirit would use this to remind us who we are (a Gospel-centered Missional Family) and help us grow in living out the way of Jesus here in the suburbs of Austin. Following each sermon, we will give you a reflection guide to work out what you are learning with your Missional Community/DNA and have a simple practice that helps us begin to live into each value.

August 5 - A people of PRAYER in a culture of distraction.
Psalm 63, John 14:18-25
Practice - Put away one distraction (iPhone, Entertainment, CNN, Talk radio, etc.) this week in hopes that you would grow in awareness of God’s presence and power.

August 12 - A people of GRATITUDE in a culture of complaint.
Col. 3:16-17, 1 Thess. 5:18
Practice - Make a list this week of 50 people or things you are thankful for. When a person comes to mind, reach out to them and share why you are thankful for them.

August 19 - A people of PATIENCE in a culture of hurry.
James 5:7-11, 2 Peter 3:8-9 A. Practice - Pick one pleasure or comfort you were planning on buying or enjoying this week and put it off for a week or more.

August 26 - A people of PRESENCE in a culture of disconnection.
1 Peter 4:8-11, James 1:19 Practice - Spend at three nights this week (1-2hours) with your friends, family, spouse, or kids where phones, games, and work is banned (anything that would divert your focus from being together). Play, talk, dine, etc. where you focus on quality time and conversation together.

Sept. 2 - A people of COMPASSION in a culture of condemnation.
Colossians 3:12, 4:2-6 Practice - Think of a person or group you have found yourself judgmental and angry with. Spend a few hours attempting to better understand their perspective and story. Setup a meeting with the person to get to know them better or read something helping explain their perspective.

Sept. 9 - A people of CREATIVITY in a culture of consumption.
Gen 1-2, Rom. 12 Practice - Identify one talent God has given you and consider how you can bless a neighbor or coworker with that talent this week. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith and see where the conversation goes. Share with them why you are doing it and what motivates you to bless others.

Sept. 16 - A people of GENEROSITY in a culture of excess.
1 Tim. 6:17-18 Practice - Identify one expense you can cut from your budget this month or something you can sell. Use that extra money to give to someone or some organization who is in need or will pass it along to someone in need.

Reflection Guide: Our Approach to Mission

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:

  • In 1 Peter 2-3, we are called to live confidently for Jesus, believing that he is at work in every circumstance. The primary place God likes to work is in/through our ordinary lives.
  • Peter also makes it clear that he believes the right people are watching. In a majority unbelieving context, people are watching Christians. Peter’s confidence that God is at work around us, and his confidence that the right people are watching leads him to say in verse 15— “honor Christ the Lord as holy [in our hearts], always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
  • Our approach to mission at Redeemer is… relational, compassionate, obedience to Jesus. We believe this is what our city needs from God’s people.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, — 1 Peter 3:15 ESV

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. As you consider 1 Peter 2:11 - 3:16, what strikes you?
  2. How would you describe the approach to mission that Peter gives to his churches in this passage?
  3. In the sermon, Jordan explains our approach to mission at Redeemer as relational, compassionate, obedience to Jesus. Reflect on this. What do you think about this approach? What does it look like for you to live this out in your life? In what ways is this challenging to you?
  4. Where has God placed you this week to live on mission (relationally, compassionately, obey Christ)?

Reflection Guide: A Good News People

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:

  • We live in a majority unbelieving world. The number of adults in the US who do not attend church has more than doubled since the 1990’s— over 100 Million people in the US have no contact with the church. As of 2016, In Round Rock, with over 165,000 people only 20,000 attend a church. That’s 145,000 people in this city who are not interested in walking in these doors. And we, the church, can no longer assume that if people want to find God, discover meaning, cope with a personal crisis, or find help for their marriage or children that they will “come to church”.
  • What our city needs from us is to see the good news of Jesus embodied and lived in everyday life. This requires that we embrace a life of mission as God’s people— right where he has already placed you.
  • 1 Peter is a perfect blueprint for understanding a Life of Mission. It shows us that a Life of Mission is a life that is aligned with the gospel in every area, lived out in everyday life.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.— 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. As you consider 1 Peter 2:4-9, what strikes you?
  2. In what ways is the language that Peter uses to describe the identity of the church significant?
  3. Sit with verses 9-10. Consider who you were before the light of Christ shone into your darkness. Reflect on how he has transformed you. How does keeping the gospel central in our lives help propel us into a life of mission?
  4. Peter closes this section with a warning and an exhortation in verses 11 & 12. Examine your life for ways in which you’ve gotten too comfortable with this world (“the passions of the flesh”)? What might it look like for your life to begin to show the good news of Jesus to those around you?

Reflection Guide: Understanding Spiritual Gifts

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:
Confusion and misconceptions that surround the person of the Holy Spirit have also caused confusion about spiritual gifts. Sadly, because of this, we have historically wasted the gifts that the Trinitarian God wants to shower the bride of Christ with. We’ve wasted these gifts by both neglecting the gifts and by also abusing the gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes to a church confused about spiritual gifts and he tells them that they need to “get informed”.

A Spirit-filled church is informed about the variety of gifts, service, and activity and values them all equally. That means that there is no idolizing certain gifts, or roles, or positions/activities in the church. But there is a unity and mutual gratitude for different the different roles in the body of Christ. There are a variety of gifts, skills, and abilities that God pours into HIS church, by HIS grace, according to HIS will, for HIS glory. Some gifts are more “everyday gifts” given to build up the body— things like words of wisdom, knowledge, and faith. While other gifts are manifestation gifts that display the power and presence of God, but what we must understand is that they are all given by the SAME spirit, who gives gifts to each of us individually as he wills.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
[10] As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: [11] whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Why do you think there is so much confusion about spiritual gifts? What leads to this confusion? Why is it important that we spiritual gifts rightly?

  2. Read 1 Cor. 12:4-11, Romans 12: 8-11. Why does God give spiritual gifts to the church? How does He give spiritual gifts? How does it make you feel to think that God has custom fit each person with unique gifts to use for his glory?

  3. Do you know your unique spiritual gifts? Discuss what you think they might be? Discuss how others in your MC have been blessed by your gifts? Here is a LINK to a free online spiritual gift assessment. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great place to start in identifying your gifts.
  4. In what ways are you using your gifts (either in the church or in the world)? What might be keeping you from using your gifts more fully?
  5. What is God saying to you in light of this sermon/discussion? What “next step” do you need to take to obey what He is stirring in your heart or mind?

Reflection Guide: Understanding the Power of the Holy Spirit

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:

  • The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Triune God. Coequally and coeternally God along with the Father and the Son. He has always existed, and he always will. He is commissioned by the Father to glorify the Son and apply the work of the Son to the lives of believers. And he does this with power! There is a power to the Holy Spirit. A power we need.

  • But we must understand that we do not control him. He is not pixie dust to be sprinkled over our worship services. He is not an experience that we chase— he is the personal, empowering presence of God— with us, in us, and around us. His power is real. His power is something that we experience and have access to. You have the power of the presence of God in your life for all eternity and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing reality for those who trust in Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit seals you, secures you, and keeps you in Christ every day. This is powerful stuff! In this sermon, Jordan unpacks how the Holy Spirit’s power works in our lives every day.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Why is it so important that we understand who the Holy Spirit is? In what ways have you been confused about him? Which of the two misconceptions about the Holy Spirit (Drunk Uncle of the Trinity or Forgotten God) has been your primary experience?
  2. Read Ephesians 1:3-14. How does the Holy Spirit display his power in the life of a believer every day? By what means does he seal/secure/keep us in Christ.
  3. Think over the last month of your life. What examples of the Holy Spirit’s power can you think of? Share specific examples with one another. A few things to consider: conviction of sin, granting boldness, peace during trial, stirring your heart for Christ, etc.
  4. Why is it so important that we regularly recognize these things as the powerful work of the Spirit in our lives? What happens if we don’t have eyes to see this as the Spirit’s power?

Close with a time of prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill your lives and grant you power to live the way of Jesus as a community.

Reflection Guide: Getting to Know the Person of the Holy Spirit

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT: - 1) Not crazy nor is his work to be identified with emotionally charged ecstatic experiences. 2) Not a generic life force or “good vibes” that just hums along like some spiritual hipster making bad things a little better, 3) Not replaced by the Bible.

The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is of the same essence as the Father and the Son, but unique in his personhood. The Holy Spirit is fully God and the whole of scripture points us to this conclusion that was affirmed and defended by the early church Fathers. But here is the interesting thing about Trinitarian worship, gaze deeply upon the Spirit and the Spirit is going to lead you into worship of the Son, look upon the Son and find yourself delighting in the love of the Father to give him. Enter into worship of any person of the Godhead and you can’t help but be drawn up into the divine love shared therein. Part of the Spirit’s work is, in fact, to draw us into this loving community of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

We also get to know the Holy Spirit through knowing the actions of the Spirit. These aren’t completely separable from the Father and Son, but the Spirit does have a unique role in God’s redemptive drama. One way we could sum up the Spirit’s unique person among the Trinity is to say the Spirit is a Lover, Liberator, and Leader.

Lover - The Holy Spirit brings us into an intimate experience of God’s love.
Liberator - Flowing from the Spirit’s love for us is his work to liberate us from enslavement to sin.
Leader - The Holy Spirit is leading us to live in the way of Jesus for the good of others.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16–17

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What are some misunderstandings you have had or experienced from others about the Holy Spirit? Consider the three things mentioned above that clarify what the Spirit is NOT.
  2. Why is it important that we understand the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity? Why is the Spirit’s unique role important to fully knowing God?
  3. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit as Lover (Romans 5:5), Liberator (2 Cor. 3:17-18), and Leader (Galatians 5:25)?
  4. What aspect of the Spirit’s personality might God be inviting you to more fully embrace in this season of life? What might this look like practically for you? Stop and pray for one another and ask for the Spirit’s help in this.

Summer MC Rest and Reset

Redeemer Family,

Last summer we encouraged each Missional Community (MC) to take a break from formal meeting nights during June and July. This proved to be a needed time of rest for our groups (especially leaders and host homes). This year we are encouraging our MCs to take a break from formal meeting nights again (although certainly their can be continued shared life and DNA groups). You can check in with your MC leader to see how this will change your MC rhythms.

This season of MC rest will run from June through July and the focus of this time will be rest and reset. We will have two church-wide training events (see more on these below) during the summer that will provide opportunities for people to connect and grow. We hope they also help us with the “reset” aspect of our summer MC break. Here is some info on each of these:

Marriage Workshop - The Posture of Marriage
June 23

First up, on Saturday, June 23rd (8:45AM-12:45PM) we will be hosting a Marriage Workshop led by Rich and Barbie Hart. There will be a lite breakfast and box lunch provided for all who register. Childcare will be available, but we have limited space open so make sure to register early if you need it. We will send out another reminder once registration is live. The cost will be $25 per couple and $5 per child for childcare. Scholarships are available as needed (email [email protected]). Also, if you register before June 9th, the registration cost is only $15 per couple. REGISTER HERE

Missional Community Workshop
July 28

As we close our time of MC summer rest we want to offer a weekend of MC equipping to help strengthen our MCs as they start back up in August. On Saturday, July 28th (8:45-11:45AM) we will have a MC Workshop with one session focused on helping with DNA groups, and another focused on helping MCs consider how God has uniquely called them to serve and love others. We will post registration for this later in the summer on Realm.

Missional communities will resume their regular meeting schedules after Sunday, August 5th. If you have any questions, you can email [email protected]. We are praying for the summer to be a refreshing time for all those in our MCs and a renewed focus when we start back in August!

Reflection Guide: Pentecost Sunday

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KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:

  • Pentecost - This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost which is a celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus. Pentecost is a greek word meaning fiftieth, as in a sort of countdown to 50 days after Passover. In the Old Testament, this holiday was known as the feast of weeks (also feast of harvest or first fruits) because it occurs 7 weeks after Passover. It was a feast to celebrate the harvest, a time of great joy for God’s people. In the church, we celebrate this as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as first fruits of the new creation! Read the story again for yourself in Acts 2:1-21.
  • Christians, we are called to live and learn the way of Jesus. This is a life characterized by loving God and others. Each of us has a unique role to play in this, but no matter what our role is we cannot live and love in the way of Jesus in our own power. We need the power of the Holy Spirit just as these first disciples did at Pentecost.

  • At Pentecost, God’s loving presence is poured into the hearts of ordinary people so that empowered by God’s presence they might bear the fruit of the Spirit. Through prayer, they yielded themselves to the Spirit’s leading. As they stepped out in trusting obedience they witnessed the fruit of the Spirit sprouting up in their life together. All of this as a signpost, a witness for the sake of the world pointing towards the coming Kingdom of God that is already breaking through.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” - Acts 2:36–39 (ESV)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Why is it important to include the promise and sending of the Holy Spirit in our understanding of the Gospel? How does Pentecost reshape our thinking about how we learn and live the way of Jesus?
  2. Consider Matthew 28:18-20. What is the mission given to the church? How does this mission shape the way we live here in the suburbs of Austin? How does it ask us to consider the globe?
  3. How has God called you to participate in his mission during this season of life and with your unique gifting? What might it look like for you to pursue that mission empowered by the Holy Spirit?
  4. How do you sense a need for the Holy Spirit’s presence and power for the things you are facing right now? Stop, slow down, and pray for one another and ask for the Spirit’s help.

Open Creative Time for 7in7

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We are excited to share that we are opening up our building this year for people to use during 7in7. We will have the building open four different times for you to come up and work on 7in7 stuff and/or use it as a meeting place to create with others.

We will have the building open the following times:

Wednesday, 5/23 - 6:00 - 9:00 PM (open creating time)
Thursday, 5/24 - 6:00 - 9:00 PM (open creating time)
Friday, 5/25 - 6:00 - 9:00 PM (open creating time)
Saturday, 5/26 - 9:00 - 12:00 AM (group songwriting/open creating time)

Daily submissions for 7in7 can be found HERE.

Delighting in the Gospel of Grace: Week 5 Reflection Guide

In this week’s sermon we look to our future hope— Glorification. Upon the return of Christ we will be saved from the presence of sin. As we see in Romans 8:18-30, when Jesus returns “glory will be revealed to us”. This will include the redemption of our bodies and the renewal of all creation. This is a glorious future that should cause us to live with great hope in the present.

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” - Romans 8:18

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • Read Romans 8:18-30. According to Paul in this passage, what is the future hope of Christians?
  • Discuss: Upon the return of Christ— what has God promised to do? What will happen to our physical bodies? What will happen to the physical creation?

**Remember, there is a lot of bad theology out there on this stuff. Keep in mind that the New Testament authors are more concerned with us understanding the promises of Christ’s return rather than all of the particulars of how it will happen.

Here are some of the quotes that Jordan shared in his sermon on Sunday to help us imagine our future in Christ:

Michael Goheen says, “The whole Bible leads us to expect a glorious renewal of life on earth, so that the age to come will be an endlessly thrilling adventure of living with God on the new earth. With his presence pervading every act, we shall be more fully human than we have ever been, liberated from sin, death, and all that hurts or harms.”

C.S. Lewis says, “Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it— made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand. All that you are, sins apart, is destined to utter satisfaction. You are a key uniquely refined to open one of the many rooms in the place Jesus has prepared”.

N.T. Wright says, “Why will we be given new bodies? According to the early Christians, the purpose of this new body will be to rule wisely over God’s new world. Forget those images about lounging around playing harps. There will be work to do and we shall relish doing it. All the skills and talents we have put to God’s service in the present life— and perhaps even the interests and liking we’ve had to set aside due to conflict and vocation— will be enhanced and ennobled and given back to us to be exercised to his glory in the new creation.”

Ray Ortlund says, “On that final day, as we step together into the new creation, you may turn to me and say: “Hey, Ray, I’m trying to remember, did we call it cancer? What was it again?” but we won’t be able to remember, so we will say, “Oh well, Off we go into glory!”.

Revelation 21:1-6 — “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (don’t freak out if you love the beach sea represent evil… think parting red sea, think Jonah thrown into the sea, Jesus calling or walking on water) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”*

  1. Do you think much about this glorious future reality in your everyday life? Why or why not?

  2. Do you think that it’s true that our future hope shapes our present life? If so, what is the future hope giving shape to your present life? (i.e. if you hope to retire one day in the future, you must live conservatively and invest wisely in the present).

  3. What things in your life would you change if you delighted in your future glory more often?

7in7 Part 2(Stories)

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7in7 is now just over a week away & I can’t wait to create together & see what God teaches us all through this process. If this is the first time you are hearing of 7in7 you can find out moreinfo in our first blog post HERE. You can also look through all of lasts years 7in7 posts HERE. This week instead of sharing with you the what & why of 7in7 I wanted to share with you some stories from those who participated in 7in7 last year. I hope this will inspire you to step in and create knowing that God will meet you there and teach you so much about himself in the process.

“I REALLY enjoyed 7in7 for a lot of reasons. I made one dessert to give away each day. I loved the discipline it forced me to have, the planning, the giving aspect, and just being in the kitchen more! God also showed me a surprising amount of things throughout the week and I'll admit I was unsure that He would reveal Himself to me while throwing ingredients into a bowl. But when I look back, it obviously wasn’t because God was choosing to speak to me because it's a special, sacred 7in7 week, it's because I was asking Him to. I was waiting and listening and seeking. He's always there, He's always ready.” - Kelsey Easley

"7in7 helped me rediscover my love for painting. For almost 15 years I didn’t paint at all simply because I felt I wasn’t good enough. 7in7 gave me a safe place to explore my creativity and discover that the Lord gifts us in so many different ways”. - Meghan Gatewood

“I went into 7in7 thinking it would be a good discipline to take pictures and write every day for a week. But it turned into SO much more than that. It honestly changed how I view the world around me. It forced me to look for the beauty, to see how the world around me really does declare the glory of the Lord. It opened my eyes to the truth that God speaks and moves in so many beautiful and amazing ways- when I am open to receiving what he is showing. It lifted my head out of the mundane, day to day grind in which I get stuck and helped me practice looking for his beauty in the everyday ordinary moments.” - Brooke Daniel

“7 in 7 showed me I could create something every day and that art doesn’t have to be perfect to be shared. It was a daily practice in vulnerability to share with our community what I had written that day and I felt confident to do so because everyone else was sharing too.” - Whitney Krussee

“Last year's 7-in-7 was very impactful for me. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, finishing things is hard because they never feel good enough. You get "paralyzed by perfection". Forcing myself to complete 7 things in 7 days was an incredibly rewarding challenge. Two of the songs were co-writes, which reminded me of how good it is to create in community. I loved to see all the different things created by our church family during 7-in-7 and the encouragement we all gave each other to step out and use our gifts and put our creativity out there. It takes vulnerability to do that, which I think is the point!” - Chris Mallonee

Delighting in the Gospel of Grace: Sanctification

KEY POINTS FROM SUNDAY:
Sanctification - The slow and steady process of transformation where God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, patiently conforms his beloved children into the image of his One true Son, Jesus. This is the process of learning and living the way of Jesus. Sanctification enlarges our capacity to love God and others. We are increasingly put off our old self, and put on the new self-created in the likeness of Christ. There is increasing freedom from slavery to sin. We essentially are learning to trust God, to freely receive from him and give away to others.

3 Reasons We Can Delight in the Gospel Benefit of Sanctification:

WE NEED IT - Our hearts are both wayward and wounded and God is committed to making us whole and Holy. God is working all things together for our good. Consider - Romans 8:28
GOD IS A PATIENT AND COMPASSIONATE FATHER WITH HIS CHILDREN - God’s pace of sanctification is slow and steady. We walk the journey of transformation in the safety of being God’s beloved children and with the continual grace of repentance and faith.
GOD WILL FINISH THE WORK HE HAS STARTED IN YOU - There is a paradoxical mystery in our Sanctification. We can rest assured God will complete it by his Spirit working in you and yet we are also invited to participate. Consider Philippians 1:6, Romans 12:1-2

Here is a link to this weeks sermon if you missed it - LINK

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON THIS WEEK:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

MC/DNA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Read the summaries and scriptures from above to help you discuss these questions):

  1. Why is it important that we understand God’s gift of sanctification? How have you seen the Gospel disconnected from this?
  2. Why is it important that we understand Sanctification as a Gospel benefit? What defenses or concerns come up in your own heart when you consider this topic of change?
  3. How does a “microwave” or “quick fix” approach lead to potentially harmful methods of getting ourselves and others to change? How might we harm others we are in relationship with if this is our expectation for ourselves and others?
  4. Spend some time praying together and considering the following questions: What is one area you sense the Spirit is working to change you (listen for those reoccurring themes that keep coming up in your life through scripture, circumstances, and others)? What might it look like honestly share this with others in your community? How does the Gospel apply to this issue? Confess to God where you need to and receive his forgiveness. Ask the Spirit to help you put off the old way and walk in the way of Christ. As you continue to grow in this area remember all that we have talked about on this topic.

7in7

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7in7 is upon us again. This upcoming May 21-27th we will spend seven days creating, cultivating, and blessing others through our creativity. My prayer for 7in7 this year is that we as a church would embrace creativity as a deep and integral part of what it means to be human, an image bearer, and a follower of Jesus. When God created man, his command was for them to fill, subdue, and multiply the earth. Their role was to cultivate God’s good creation- to make something of the world and fill it full of people who would do the same. He tasked them with creating culture- a way of being in the world and a way of making meaning of the world through everything they did, rooted in His gracious provision of all the tools necessary to do so.

Andy Crouch says, “What is missing, I've come to believe, are the two postures that are most characteristically biblical -- the two postures that have been least explored by Christians in the last century. They are found at the very beginning of the human story, according to Genesis: like our first parents, we are to be creators and cultivators. Or to put it more poetically, we are artists and gardeners. ... after the contemplation, the artist and the gardener both adopt a posture of purposeful work. They bring their creativity and effort to their calling. ... They are acting in the image of One who spoke a world into being and stooped down to form creatures from the dust. They are creaturely creators, tending and shaping the world that original Creator made.

If the idea of being creative seems foreign, would you consider taking the posture of a learner and being open to hearing from God through the creativity of others? Would you also consider being surprised as you learn how to think and act creatively in whatever areas God has gifted you? If you love the idea of being a creative, would you do the same?

Creativity isn’t limited to the creation story. In the gospels, we see Jesus engage in creative storytelling. This shouldn’t surprise us. The Bible says in Colossians 1:16,”For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

Every captivating sunset

The stars in the sky

Every mountaintop & valley

Daisies & sequoia trees

a rushing stream

melody & harmony

through Him

& for Him.

Jesus didn’t just give his followers a list of facts about himself, but instead, he used stories to paint a picture of what the kingdom of God was like. In fact, in the book of Matthew, Jesus says eleven different times,"The Kingdom of heaven is like…” So eleven different times in Matthew, Jesus gives stories and word pictures to help his followers, and those who were curious, a chance to imagine the kingdom. Some wouldn't understand what he was saying and some would. Some would hate this type of Kingdom and others would be captivated by its beauty. To all it would be an invitation to imagine a world where God was King; a kingdom that could not be earned but must be received.

I think Jesus wants to give us new ways of seeing, understanding, and learning to receive His kingdom.

SO WHERE DO WE START?
God has given each of us time and unique talents to cultivate as worship offered unto Him and a way to bless others. Each day of 7in7 you will be challenged to step into the hard work of creating something in whatever way you are gifted.

  • If you are a songwriter, what would it look like to create seven songs in seven days?
  • If you are a baker or enjoy cooking, what might it look like to craft seven dishes in seven days?
  • If you love woodworking what would it look like to work on seven small projects in seven days or one project each day for seven days and see it completed?

(Other ideas might include: painting, sculpting, poetry, writing confessions for Redeemer liturgy, serving neighbors, photography, landscaping, short stories, sewing, drawing, graphic design, coloring)

The goal is not the quality of the work (although how beautiful it is when something incredible is created), but to grow in stewarding our talents and stepping out in faith to create courageously. As a church family, we will celebrate the courage and vulnerability to put our gifts on display, whatever that may look like. This will also push all of us to grow in the discipline of trying new things and finishing what we start. The goal is not to produce goods or be efficient and make a ton of stuff, but instead, to carefully consider how the things we create help make sense of the world- how they help us find meaning and understanding as we seek to learn and live the way of Jesus.

Would you prayerfully consider how God might want to speak to you & to others through #7in7 this year?