Steve DeNeff - John 6:16-21; 11:17-37. Most of us want a God that can do miracles because there is always something too big or too hard for us that we need God to do. So if God should calm a storm or raise the dead, it is no surprise to anyone. This is what gods do or they are no god at all. The real surprise comes when God, instead of calming the storm, should walk out into it and, instead of raising the dead, should grieve at the funeral even more than the family. Most of us don’t even want a God like that but sometimes that’s the only God there is.
How and where God is to be worshiped, who and what was acceptable to him was the argument of her day. To both Samaritans and Jews God was the product of years of indoctrination, protocol and prejudice. All of this worked for a while, until God asked a woman of ill repute for a drink. In this encounter, the God of her youth began to die and a new one – an other who was seeking her, who belonged to no one and so he belonged to everyone – was rising in front of her. Suddenly, her worship as no longer about precedence, protocol and prejudice. It was all about spirit and truth, for those are the qualities that the real God seeks.
Steve DeNeff - Mark 8:31-9:1. What is it about Jesus that most surprises you about God? The images that we have of God come early in life and, over time, become fixed and then fragile. When something goes wrong, or when God is silent for a period of time, it rattles these images and we let go fo them a little. Something about God “dies” and in this death, something new, something stronger, more personal and closer to the Truth rises in its place. This cycle, known as “conversion,” is a predictable, normal and even healthy process. By holding on to things we know for sure, we can emerge from this “death of God” experience with a stronger grip on Him who was dead and is alive forevermore.
Joanne Solis-Walker - Acts 10:25-35; Isaiah 43:18-19. Cornelius, an officer in the Italian group of the Roman Army did not expect to be in the presence of Peter and yet Peter stood before him. The thought of Peter welcoming men from Caesarea into his house was not conceivable, yet the men are not only welcomed, but Peter invites them to spend the night. Though alienated from each other, these two men were brought together by unexpected visions from God. These visions represented something new that exceeded their wills and imaginations. In a similar manner, God is doing a new, new thing today to bring to fruition the vision He has for His Church.
Steve DeNeff - John 11:38-45. In one of Jesus’ most memorable and disruptive miracles, he raises Lazarus from the dead. But this time he does not finish the miracle alone. He orders his disciples to “take off the grave clothes and let him go.” This week, we’ll profile some of our people who have been forming one another communities across our city. We’ll tell their stories and celebrate the ways that they have been “taking off the grave clothes” for people that Jesus has raised from the dead.
Steve DeNeff - Luke 11:1-10. “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer… Have equal concern for one another… (and) pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Steve DeNeff - John 13:1-17. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves; each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others… Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Steve DeNeff - John 8:1-11. “Do not repay evil for evil; if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone… be patient, bearing with one another in love… Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another; forgive, as the Lord forgave you… Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed… (and) remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Steve DeNeff - Matthew 7:24-29. “I am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another… Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ… and let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom… set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Steve DeNeff - Matthew 9:18-26. “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another… Don’t grumble against each other or you will be judged, for the Judge is standing at the door… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing… Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess… and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Do not give up meeting together – as some are in the habit of doing – but let us encourage one another, and all the more as we see the (last) Day approaching.”