Items filtered by date: January 2014 - Harris Creek Baptist Church
It has been said that a great way to test what we value is by how we spend our free time. If this is true, by most measurements we can say that worship is still one of the things Americans value in their lives because it remains to be one of the most popular ways people continue to use their free time. Christians in particular understand how essential worship is to developing our relationship with Christ. In short, there is never an instance in history where a Christian community exists without also finding evidence of Christian worship. But with all of the talk, focus, and attention that worship gets in our culture, many people rarely stop to think about the role worship is to play in our discipleship and how it functions in Scripture. We see in Acts 2:42-47 that worship for the earliest Christians was a response to God's activity in the world. In other words, worship is not something we initiate or manufacture on our own. We also see that worship leads us to living out the mission of God in our daily lives. Finally, we see in other New Testament passages, such as Romans 12, that worship functioned as a discipline to help develop love and affection for God.
In Romans 5, the Apostle Paul is outlining what Jesus accomplished on our behalf and what it means for us as humanity. He is clearly defining our relationship with God for those who are in Christ. He begins by saying we have been justified by faith. "Justification" is a legal term used when someone has been declared to be in right standing. If you are a believer in Christ, the Bible says you have been declared right standing before God because Jesus has served your sentence for you. Paul goes on to say that through Jesus we have obtained access to the presence of God. Jesus has made possible unrestricted access to the presence of God. Because of this Good News, we have hope as believers, even in the midst of sufferings and trials. Because of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, we have been justified, we have peace, we have access, we have hope, we have joy— even in trials—and we have security in God's love, which will never fail.
In the 1980s and 90s, the Church in America went through a period of wrestling with different worship styles. The conversation got so heated at points that it began to be described as "worship wars." These hot debates were primarily over personal preferences and styles of music. While that conversation has reached a calmer state today, the debate now has seemed to shift toward the subject of "equipping." There has long been an assumption that spiritual formation must include a series of classes and programs to be effective. Over time, our strategies for forming believers into mature disciples have turned into a vehicle that is built to primarily pass on intellectual knowledge rather than form mature believers. Ephesians 4:12-13 says the purpose of "equipping" is to help the believer "become mature." Scripture says the goal of equipping is more about educating the spirit than it is about informing the mind; it's about creating mature believers who do the will of God, not simply talk about it. We see in Acts 2:42-47 that this is how equipping functioned from the very beginning. What was learned in the temple courts applied to everyday life in the home and, in the process, created mature disciples of Jesus.
After his crucifixion and resurrection, before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave one final command to his followers telling them to "go and make disciples of all nations." This command is the job of every believer and is the task the church is given, but it begs the question: "What does it mean to 'make disciples' of Jesus?" We get a picture of how the first Christians put this command into practice and how they went about making disciples in Acts 2:42-47. In this passage, we see that there were four essential ingredients in the discipleship process of the Early Church: community, equipping, worship, and mission. At Harris Creek, we believe biblical community is the foundation, or root system, upon which discipleship must be built. A commitment to living in biblical community is ultimately the catalyst that moves us toward living the life God calls us to live.
here are moments, even long seasons, in every life when we get confused, bewildered, and disoriented. We ask ourselves how we got to this place and wonder how we are ever going to get out. We also tend to question where God is in these moments. In Genesis 37, Joseph finds himself in a situation just like this when he is thrown into a literal pit by his own family members. What we see in Genesis 37 is that the name of God does not appear in this chapter, yet God is still at work in his life. When you face these moments, it is important to remember that you are only one degree away from the next thing God wants to do in your life.
The past four weeks have been about Advent, a season in which we observe God's plan of redemption through the Incarnation and are invited to participate in it. In revisiting the story of Jesus' birth, we encounter a number of different individuals, including the Magi, men from the East traditionally labeled as "wise." In ancient near eastern cultures, wisdom literature was a common genre of writing shared among the nations, and the Book of Proverbs is like an anthology of "words to the wise." In Proverbs 3, we find a word of instruction about trusting God. During the season of Advent, we join in a season of waiting; as we await the arrival of our Savior's birth, we are trusting all along the way, are we not? So why should we stop when our Savior is born? If God has appeared, what keeps us from expecting him to appear again? Trusting God entails having the expectant hope that God is near and you're prepared for the next encounter. With each new day, you can always afford more trust in the Lord.