Steve DeNeff - Mark 9:14-27. In this well-known miracle is a parable for the contemporary Church. Like the father’s boy, we have been “robbed of our speech” (v.17). In the eyes of the public, we cannot speak because we cannot hear (v.26) and we cannot hear because we no longer believe (v.19, 29). We are “disenchanted,” by our overcrowded beliefs. Whenever we’re speechless, the solution is not to keep talking - though, often, that’s what we do - but to really listen, first to God and then to others before we know what the gospel really means for our world today.
Emily Vermilya - Matthew 13:3-13; 16-17. Listening is an art form necessary for those who desire to know, understand, and follow God. The parables of Christ call us to move beyond merely hearing the proclaimed word to truly listening for the fullness of the voice of God. Though usually offered as simple stories, the parables require us to look beyond the obvious for the deeper intended message and meaning. In the Parable of the Sower (as it has often been entitled), we find a reminder that in order to receive the Word of the Lord and see it flourish in our lives, we must refocus and commit ourselves to cultivating soil in which it can take root and grow.
Steve DeNeff - Philippians 3:10-4:1. What happens after we believe? What do we do next, and what if nothing happens? Many Christians complain that their lives are not what they expected, not even after they were “saved.” Have they done something wrong? Has God over-promised and under-performed? Or were they wrong about what it means to be “saved?” This message will re-examine conversion in the light of Paul’s experience and contemporary Christianity and show how this effects our lives, as individuals, and our church.
Steve DeNeff - Philippians 3:1-12. At the core of our church is a mission, and at the core of that mission is the pursuit of God in Christ as he is manifest in the Word, the Gospel and the Church. Today’s culture has challenged the Church’s commitment to these three things - offering substitutes that have only a form of godliness - but every disciple and every church will ultimately be measured by their pursuit of them.
Steve DeNeff - Psalm 100. Saying “thank you” is one of the first things we learn as a child, yet the words can seem shallow when there is lots to be thankful for. Perhaps that is the plight of most, even poor Americans. The more we have, the more we notice what we don’t have. Yet “thanksgiving” and “praise” v.4) mean something different in the Psalms. Here they are not just words, but rituals. They are not just manners, but ways of life. What if saying “thank you” is more than good etiquette; what if it’s good therapy? And what if it changes more than our attitude; what if it actually changes the outcome? At the heart of Israel’s worship (v.2) is the knowledge that we belong to God (v.3) and that it is his nature to take care of his own (v.5).
Steve DeNeff - Psalm 130-131. As Americans we are not accustomed to waiting nor do we wait for the right things. This song, sung on the temple steps by a seeker on his way into worship, describes one whose heart is pure even if the rest of him is not. He was once in the depths (v.1) and has found God’s forgiveness (v.4), but he has not yet found redemption (v.7). Here on the steps, between forgiveness and redemption, he waits (v.5-6) for himself and for his people. One day, he/they will be what God created him/them to be. Meanwhile, he quiets himself like a child in his mother’s arms (131:2), content for now yet longing to be what he was created to be. What are you waiting for? And what are you doing while you wait? If we wait for the right things, and we wait in the right way, God will fulfill His promise to redeem us in the end.
Steve DeNeff - Psalm 32. The desire for innocence is a primal instinct. Just as we seem inclined to do what is wrong, we are inclined to cover it up (v.1), to “keep silent” (v.3) until we can stand it no more (v.4). Then we admit to our sin and discover that our innocence lies, not away from guilt, but through it… on the other side of it (v.5). With new confidence and enthusiasm we cling to God who does even more than we ask for, who not only covers our sin (v.1) but surrounds us with songs of deliverance (v.7). At the end of our innocence is the beginning of God’s unfailing love (v.10).
Alex Mandura - Psalm 88. Darkness. Loss. Overwhelmed. Grief. Desolation. Abandoned. These are sobering words that describe a season of life we are in, or perhaps someone in our circle of relationships. What do we do when these dark nights arise? More often than not our response is mixed with blaming God, ourselves or others. Our actions range from avoidance, forsaking others or even providing insufficient attempts to resolve the spiritual desert we are in. Psalm 88 gives us the story of a person walking through such a season, that doesn’t have a clear resolution, yet shows us that the response in the midst is the hope we are looking for.
Emily Vermilya - Psalm 23 is often referred to as the most widely-known Psalm in the Bible. We learn it early in our journeys with Christ and recite it often. But there is a distinct differences in knowing the Psalm and living it. As a Psalm of assurance, Psalm 23 is intended as a Psalm for living—providing us with an expression of confidence in God, our great Shepherd who will provide for every need.