“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
April 2, 2017
“Into Your Courts”
“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Prayers of Intercession
SERMON: Max Lucado
“He Chose the Nails”
He Chose To Forgive Us
“Mighty Is Our God”
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Christ.
Spring Cleaning for the Soul
By Anita Lustrea, Midday Connection ~ www.moodyradio.org
Spring has been greatly anticipated in many parts of the country this year. In Chicago, where I live, winter did not want to give up. I can hardly wait for weather warm enough to open the windows wide and air out the stale winter still inhabiting my house.
Most of us think of spring as a time to clean, or at least to clean out. We have an itch to get outside, to start moving our bodies that have been in hibernation mode for the winter, much like the animals. It’s time to start dropping those excess pounds put on over the winter as we ate comfort food to help insulate us against the elements.
What about a little spring cleaning for the soul? What might that look like?
Easter is upon us, when we start thinking of the horrible death our Savior died on our behalf. But will we give his sacrifice just a cursory glance on our way to saying “He is risen indeed?” Even as Christ died for our sins, it seems the spiritual practice of confession has taken a back seat in many churches.
How might you spend the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? That little talked about day. That day of silence.
Jesus’s followers certainly wondered: “Will Jesus conquer the grave?” “What will be the outcome?” We have the benefit of knowing what would happen, but those early followers were despairing. They hadn’t grasped what Jesus had been telling them. What would that Saturday before Easter Sunday have looked like if we really didn’t know, didn’t believe the outcome would be His resurrection?
I’d like to suggest instead of just another Saturday of heading to the mall or the grocery store, that we choose to do a little spring cleaning for the soul. Let’s set aside some time to live in the sadness, the unknowing of that first Easter.
Maybe we can spend time reflecting on and confessing the sins with which we struggle. Maybe we can use the practice of reading the scriptural account of the holy week with our “sacred imagination,” as beloved professor and author Howard Hendricks suggested. Maybe we can put ourselves in the story.
And, when Easter morning dawns, our celebration might be the sweetest we’ve had in years. He is risen indeed!
Holy Week Thoughtsby Joseph Tkach
Holy Week (also called Passion Week) begins in a week with Palm Sunday (Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem), followed by Maundy Thursday (commemorating the Last Supper), Good Friday (where God’s goodness toward us was manifested in the greatest sacrifice of all) and Holy Saturday (when Jesus lay in the tomb).
Then comes the glorious eighth day—Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of our great high priest, Jesus, the Son of God (Hebrews 4:14).
This season of the year powerfully reminds us that we have been and continually are blessed “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Yes, we all face times of uncertainty. But we rest in peace knowing how greatly God has blessed us in Christ. Like a mighty river whose waters flow from its source out to far lands, God’s name moves before the world. Though we don’t see the full extent of this movement, we stand in awe at what we do see.
Truly God has and is blessing us, and Passion Week is a powerful reminder.
GCI Missions Update
Mozambique – Over the last 6 years, we have been blessed to support our brothers and sisters in Mozambique. I just received this update from Tim Maguire, GCI Missions leader for Southern Africa
It was great to hear from you. The conference in Orlando in August is definitely going to be a blessing and I hope we get a chance to have a drink or meal and catch up with you and Jonnie. It’s great that even in ‘retirement’ you are able to continue serving and ministering with Him.
I leave this coming weekend to go up to Mozambique and drill wells, then teach at the Easter conference. David Botha (GCI pastor in Cleveland who is from South Africa) is flying out to be part of the trip. Everyone’s prayers for this trip will be greatly appreciated.
The Bibles, that your 4 churches’ generous donations helped purchase, are going to be handed out at the Easter conference. So hopefully I will be able to give you a report on that afterwards. Take care and please pass on my Love to Jonnie and your churches. – YBIC, Tim
GCI Peru, South America
On March 25, Pastor David wrote the following to Hector Barrero, his dear friend and Missions Director for GCI in South & Central America:
“How are our dear GCI brothers and sisters doing in Peru with the severe flooding that is taking place? Love to you and Paulina…look forward to seeing you in Orlando.
Hector replied: “Hi David, Thanks for your concern for Peru. Our members especially in Piura, Peru, are suffering the floods. All Latin congregations have joined efforts to send help for those in need. Thank you for your prayers. Love to your Indiana churches. Look forward to seeing you and Jonnie in Orlando.”
by Joseph Tkach – GCI President
In this season of Lent, it’s good to remember that sin is bigger and grace is deeper than many realize. We’ll take a look at both realities in this letter.
Sin is bigger
Most of us don’t like thinking or talking about sin, and we surely don’t like being on its receiving end. But what constitutes sin? Some people define it by making reference to the classic sin list, The Seven Deadly Sins —it was the basis for the movie Seven (starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey) and the TV series Seven Deadly Sins. Most people agree that theft and murder are sins, but there is less agreement when it comes to other behaviors.
Some people compile their own sin lists, including such behaviors as watching movies, playing cards and dancing. Others include drinking alcoholic beverages, and some even see drinking Coca Cola and coffee as sins. In looking at these lists, it’s not hard to conclude that God must hate murder and lying more than he hates drinking a latte or a beer. That being the case, some people divide their sin lists into categories of presumed severity. Some label the most severe sins as “mortal sins,” and the less severe ones as “venial sins.” Scripture addresses sin, in some cases in the form of sin lists. Here are three such lists—one from the Old Testament and two from the New:
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
All the behaviors in these sin lists are considered by Christians (and others) to be sin because, to one extent or another, they “miss the mark” of moral conduct. This idea of missing the mark is conveyed by some of the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible for sin. The idea is that to sin is to depart from (miss) the right path, which raises this question: How is the right path defined? Typically, people think of sin in terms of wrong actions and thoughts. That’s how I viewed sin for much of my life, defining it by the laws in Scripture. Others might define it by civil laws (here in the U.S., there are laws against nearly all the behaviors on the sin lists quoted above). But sin is far bigger than all the laws written in all the law books. I submit that there is a much higher, more all-encompassing standard we should use in defining sin.
Jesus: the standard
According to Karl Barth, the biblical concept of sin does not begin with the law—it begins with Jesus. He is the standard. Sin cannot be properly understood without reference to who Jesus is in relationship with God and humankind. As the Son of God and Son of Man, the God-man Jesus has fulfilled both relationships, perfectly living out the Great Commandments to love God and one’s neighbor as we are loved by God.
From this Christ-centered perspective, we understand sin to be about the breaking of good and right relationships—first with God, then with others. We sin when we violate the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and, through him, with the Father and the Spirit. And we sin when we damage the relationships with others that our triune God gives us. Therefore, more than sin being defined as breaking of the law, it is defined as anything opposing right relationships of faith, hope and love for God and for humanity, as lived out in Jesus’ life.
Jesus always acts in relationship according to who God is and who his neighbor is in relationship to God. His obedience is his conformity to the “demands” of right relationship with God and with others. He lives out of his worship relationship of complete faith (trust) in his Father, his word and his Holy Spirit. So it is in this way that Jesus glorifies God, showing him to be worthy of worship in all his relationships. Thus we understand that sin is much bigger than merely failing to follow the Ten Commandments or some other written code of law. Sin is failing to relate to God in the way God ordained—in and through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man.
Make no mistake about it: sin is destructive. Notice what we say in our article, “What is Sin?”:
Sin is an internal power that affects everyone’s humanness—our very human nature. In effect, sin deceives us, enters us and dominates our existence. Sin enslaves us and takes us over as drugs enslave an addict. Sin is like a deadly virus that enters our human nature and takes control of us, using us for its own purposes. Sin reproduces itself within us and destroys our self. And the evil behaviors that result are the symptoms of our inner defectiveness.
While sin and human nature are not material substances or fixed structures we can identify, mark and box up, they are inseparable from what we are. Continuing from the article:
In fact, what happens is that our human nature itself is or becomes sin because sin corrupts the expression of our self, making human nature sinful. In short, sin is something that creates our sinful nature. It becomes our self or our ego. Paul, personifying the sinful nature or being as himself, said, “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (Romans 7:14).
Grace is deeper
So that’s the nature of sin, which points to the bad news. But there is another, greater reality—it’s the very good news of God’s grace. As broken as we sinful humans may be, the God of love and grace does not throw us away. He does not give up on us, but remains faithful. Instead, he brings the dead to life through Jesus Christ. He is restoring the broken to a pristine new condition. He restores, redeems and reconciles us to himself through his Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are no longer simply sinners, we are forgiven sinners who receive his grace and forgiveness daily.
God’s goal is for us to have eternal life in his presence—to be spiritually perfect as he is perfect. But to accomplish that purpose, God must clear away the imperfections (the sinfulness) that are part of our nature. We have to be remade, refashioned, regenerated or spiritually reborn (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5-7)—and that is exactly what God accomplished for us in Jesus Christ. Note how Paul ended his thought in Romans 7: 24-25: “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.” By the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit we canshare in Christ’s own justified and sanctified human nature, day by day as we look forward to one day sharing fully in his glorified humanity. That is how deep God’s grace reaches through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.
During Lent  it’s good for us to remember the truth of the bad news of sin, and also the reality of the good news of grace: Jesus took our sinful nature upon himself, thus sanctifying our fallen human nature in himself, bringing it into a full and faithful obedience to God. His entire life, lived in our place and on our behalf, culminated in his words from the cross: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). Jesus did all this so that we could be spiritually reborn, enabling us to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in the way that transforms us in a Christomorphic direction.
P.S. Christomorphic is my new favorite word. Just can’t get enough of it!
 The list known as The Seven Deadly Sins was compiled by Pope Gregory I in about A.D. 600. The seven sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth. While Scripture identifies all seven as sin, it does not explicitly categorize them as being “deadly.”
 For a helpful article about Lent by Mark D. Roberts
Pray for the Persecuted Church – Pray for Revival in the Church
Pray for our Nation & Pres. Elect Trump
LOCAL PRAYER REQUESTS
Jerry Hudson prayers for healing and strength.
Mary Coffey – Encouragement and healing.
Helen Pavy – Encouragement and good health.
Jim Wood – Recovery & healing from hernia surgery
Janis Burns – Slowly improving, continued prayers for healing & strength
Norm & Sue Durbin – Recover from colds
Chuck Davison – First cataract surgery on April 12
Patricia Robinson (GC Indy) Healing of brain tumor, headaches, nosebleeds
Kathy Ennis – Continued back pain – in therapy
GC Indy – Prayers for Pastor Josh & Heather as they lead GC Indy in a new church location – for insight and opportunities to share the life and love of Jesus in the Irvington area of Indianapolis. Richard Cravens (friend of Jim & Donna Dunbar) Stage 3 multiple melanoma, an aggressive cancer of the bones/bone marrow/blood. Prayers for the family
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision. GCI International Churches & Mission Leaders – Blessings, protection & provision as they share the Life & Love of Jesus, and train up new leaders and pastors. Prayers that they can share the gospel despite opposition.
Joe & Tammy Tkach – Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement