Steve DeNeff - Psalm 31. In the last twenty years, we’ve seen the rise of a new intolerance for, not just the “religious” but the “righteous” in particular. Around the world, and especially in America, the people of God have become the subject of criticism and scorn. The righteous have been labeled, “intolerant, irrelevant and extreme,” and not only by their enemies, but by their friends “who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.” We are like "a city under siege,” (31:21). In response to our critics, Christians today have resorted to a few strategies designed to protect them but, so far, each has only made things worse. In this Psalm - a prayer to Yahweh - another strategy emerges for dealing with our critics and this one has helped preserve us for centuries.
Steve DeNeff - Psalm 27. Terror… threat… intimidation… anxiety… dread and the failure of nerve. It seems like a low-grade fear has gripped the soul of our nation, our neighborhoods and even our leaders. At the bottom of our trouble is a deep and subtle fear… of failure, of rejection, of loss, of each other. Yet the Psalmist, whose circumstances were more dire than our own, found a way to conquer his fears, not by casting them out but by finding God in them: “He will conceal me there when trouble comes,” (v.4, NLT). What has fear kept you from doing? What have you settle for, or settled into, that is below you due to your fear? What would you do, or try to do, if you knew you could not fail?
Beau Hamner - Psalm 116. God is present with us through both through periods of blessing and periods of struggle. In both, He listens attentively to our prayers of joy and our prayers of lament. He responds through graciousness, compassion, and protection. Our response to His action should not be one of ambivalence or inaction. Instead we are called to fulfill our vows we have made to God and respond to Him with thanks before all His people.
Eric Crisp - Psalm 1. The psalms are songs for the people of God. Songs can influence our thoughts as well as our emotions and the psalms are meant to form the way we see and experience the world. Throughout the seasons of life, the psalms speak to the heart of the disciple, leading to a life that flourishes in every circumstance. Psalm 1 sets the agenda for our life of worship and leads us to the root of a fruitful life.
Emily Vermilya - John 3:22-30 & Matthew 6:1-4. Much like John the Baptist's disciples, we live in a culture that encourages us to vie for status and public renown—to broadcast our accomplishments widely and make known the great things we’ve done. Consequently, our perceived value and worth is often tied directly to the titles we’ve been given and the accolades we’ve received. But this mindset breeds a spirit of competition and self-centeredness; and we, like John’s disciples, can lose sight of our primary purpose and calling to “prepare the way of the Lord.” In the example of John the Baptist, we find the embodiment of Jesus’ teaching on doing good deeds, not to be acknowledged and praised by others, rather for the sake of the greater Kingdom. This requires the great discipline of hiddenness and an intentionality in elevating others, specifically Christ, before ourselves: “He must become greater and greater, and (we) must become less and less.”
Alex Sicilia - Luke 9:57-62. In all of life, we have varying levels of commitment (closeness, or passion). We can be 1) Interested 2) Involved 3) Committed or 4) Surrendered. We see these levels of commitment in our work, sports, hobbies, ideas, with other people, and in our relationship with Jesus. This message will invite College Church to consider what level we are at in our relationship with Christ. It will encourage us to participate in full devotion, surrender, and total dedication to Jesus and how to help others in this journey. We want to move beyond the basic stages of interest and involvement and into the transformational levels of commitment and surrender.
Eric Crisp - Matthew 27:57-61; John 20:10-18. If we love God, we obey God and when we think of obedience, we usually think of action. But what if the call to obey is a call to wait? Our productivity culture has a bias toward action: we plan, we prepare, and we execute. But obedience is often a call to patiently wait on God to work and we get witness and evangelize. Mary Magdalene helps us see what it means to actively wait for God because we love God.
Steve DeNeff - John 14:15-24. Obedience is the first and last lesson in discipleship: If we love God, we will obey him. But if we obey God, does that mean we love him? In fact, there are 3 reasons to obey God and not all of them are equal. To obey God for love is the highest form of obedience. What are the others? And how do we know which one motivates us?
Steve DeNeff - John 21:1-17. Most of us have heard, and some of us believe that God loves us like a child. But do we love God? Really? How would we know? More than that, how we he know? We may tell him, perhaps every Sunday, but relationships are complex. Most require more than words. They require action. So what might we do to prove that we love God? What actions might he interpret as evidence of our love? Fortunately, we are not on our own here. The Bible offers a handful of things we can do to “prove” that we love him. Jesus’ conversation with Peter is one of them: "Do you love me? . . . (then) feed my sheep.” But who are these “sheep?” And what is involved in feeding them? This message will focus on the call to take responsibility for someone else’s spiritual growth.
"One of the great themes throughout the Bible is the struggle between life and death: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” (Jn. 10:10). This struggle culminates in life of Jesus as death reaches out to claim him (Good Friday) and in the process dies itself (Easter). This is the message of Easter - “the last enemy to be defeated is death” (1 Cor. 15:26) - and it is played out every day in this world through our lives."