perseverance

The Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-10)

A  third of the world's population calls itself Christian. Yet most believe that following Jesus and making it to heaven does not actually require obeying what He taught. In John 15, Jesus provides an allegory of the Vine and the branches, a beautiful picture of how to understand our relationship with Jesus and what is required by us to be saved in the end. Grasp this teaching and you will also understand the blessings available to anyone who abides in Christ and allows himself or herself to be pruned by the Gardner. In just ten verses, this teaching may also do more to demolish the foundation of Reformation Theology than any other passage of Scripture.

The Most Disturbing Story in the Bible (Judges 19-21)

PDF of Lesson Notes

**WARNING - due to the disturbing nature of the subject, this lesson may not be suitable for children**

The Old Testament contains some things that are difficult for us to reconcile: oppression of women, brutal violence, indifference toward the helpless, and even genocidal wars. Perhaps the most disturbing story of them all (containing all of these elements) is the account of the Levite and His Concubine, in Judges 19-21. In this lesson we tackle that story, to see if we can find anything redeeming in it; and uncover some surprising things in the process. 

The Exodus Map, a Parable of the Christian Life

[PDF of Lesson notes to be posted shortly]

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Hidden in plain view, in the famous story of the Exodus from Egypt, we find a detailed map of the Christian journey of faith. The connection is suggested in one of the psalms, but revealed by insights from three books in the New Testament and by early Christians. This is an unforgettable, faith-building lesson that sheds light on a number of foundational teachings: on sin, eternal security, baptism, Satan and the goal of our faith.

Starting the New Year (Ezekiel 18 & 33)

PDF of Lesson Outline

As we start the New Year, it is a great time to take inventory of our spiritual lives, including our own personal righteousness. To help us we have the prophet Ezekiel, the example of Job, and the instruction of James. This lesson encourages us to understand the heart of God, who loves all people and is waiting to forgive those who turn to Him and to show favor to those who walk in His ways. We are called to leave behind any baggage of guilt and regret of the past, as well as to finish our lives strong, imitating the righteous men and women who have gone before us.  

The Wheat and the Tares

This lesson tackles a foundational and often misunderstood teaching of the Kingdom of God revealed in many of Jesus' parables, including the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds). God will ultimately separate the good and the evil at the last day.  This lesson addresses our responsibility as individual Christians to strive to be wheat, good fish, wise virgins, and properly attired guests at the Kingdom banquet. The lesson also addresses our responsibility to address sin in the Church.   

Lessons from the Life of Joseph

There are many tremendous lessons to learn from the life of Joseph.  This sermon looks at two of them:  1) Joseph's high standard of purity and 2) his ability (through years of mistreatment) to see God's hand work good out of evil, to save the lives of many people. We are called to imitate Joseph's example of righteousness and faithfulness, without growing bitter or resentful during difficult times.

1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13 - Making It All the Way to the End: Lessons from the Desert

In this passage of Scripture, Paul warns the Corinthians of sins that can destroy their relationship with God and disqualify them from the ultimate prize of eternal life.  Paul uses four examples, including the story of the Israelites escaping from Egypt and wandering through the desert, to teach us to persevere to the end. Paul's instruction gives us hope to overcome temptation and endure hardship, in order to win the ultimate prize of being with God forever.