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12/ 2

Is Christmas For Those Who Are Grieving?

Rick Whitlock

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Advent is the first season of the Church calendar, and it refers to the coming or arrival of a notable person. For Christians, the arrival of Jesus at Christmas marks the arrival of God himself into our world for the purpose of saving the world. But every year during this season, while our malls and car radios blare “have a holly jolly Christmas,” we are confronted the reality that many people experience great sadness at Christmas time. We are caught between two worlds. On the one hand, Christmas is festive and joyful, but on the other, we are grieved by our losses. Through the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1, we see that God doesn’t remove but rather includes the painful details of life in the Christmas narratives. In fact, grief and pain is exactly why Christmas occurred in the first place. Christ has come “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” While our grief blinds us to believing in God, Jesus shows us that our grief can also lead us to his grace. Jesus comes to those who are grieving to give us grace and guide us into peace.

 

Other Scriptures Referenced: Isaiah 9:2; 53:4; John 1:9-11; 8:12.

 

11/18

Becoming a People of: Authority

Dave Shockey

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Today we explore what it means to become a people of authority. We will see how our authority is based on Jesus's authority. We will also take a look at anxiety and what it means to "cast all our anxiety on Him."

Ephesians 1-2
Psalm 16
Matthew 11:28

11/11

Becoming a People of: Servant Leadership

Rick Whitlock

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In 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter urges church leaders and church members to participate in the counterintuitive leadership structure of the Church. Peter calls church leaders to shepherd God’s people, and he calls church members to submit to the leaders. Elders shepherd by organizing their lives to extend the care of God to others, and everybody else responds by deciding to let their lives be the subject of the leader’s care. Peter shows us that there are two ways to lead: (1) the default model of leadership in the world is selfish-leadership which is in done in pride with the desire to be served by others; but (2) the biblical model of leadership is servant-leadership which delivers us from selfish-leadership and frees us to humbly serve others. Though there are many potential pitfalls of leadership — serving out of duty rather than love, out of personal greed rather than sacrificial giving, and using power over others rather than power for others — the humility of Jesus in serving and saving us becomes our example for servant leadership in the church and everywhere. 

Other Scriptures Referenced: Ezekiel 8:9-12; 34:1-16; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 7:44-47; John 13:1-8, 12-16; 1 Corinthians 9:9-11, 15-16, 18; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Peter 2:1-10; 1 John 4:19.

11/ 4

Becoming a People of: Confidence

Rob Schrumpf

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We tend to acquaint suffering with God’s distance, not His intimate presence. Peter reframes it for us; removing shame and fear and bringing the reality of the living hope into a confident humility, a bold steadfastness, a deep and lasting faith. Suffering that is associated with faith in Christ isn’t a surprise, considering that we are following the One called the Suffering Servant, who, because of His suffering, has secured our hope - lifting suffering out of the smallness of bitterness and despair and fear into the wide open expanse of God’s promises, blessing, presence, joy, and spiritual growth. 

This passage is meant to be an encouragement for those in the midst of suffering for the name of Jesus: Don’t be surprised or ashamed. Do rejoice and trust. Still, as we think about ‘persecution’ in our context verses 70% of the world, it is easy to go to guilt or complacency, neither of which is helpful. This is where the both/and nature of the Gospel must compel us to BOTH acknowledge and navigate the costs of following Jesus (and the subtleties of being lured to sleep or assimilation so that our distinctiveness gets blurred) AND keep our hearts and minds in tune with what this means for believers in other parts of the world. Over 200 million of our brothers and sisters experience intimidation, discrimination, prison, or outright persecution and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ. Our call is to be informed so that, in our freedom, we can pray, support, and advocate.

10/28

Becoming a People of: Grace

Ken Liechty

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1 Peter 4 
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

As followers of Jesus we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and with that gift comes specific spiritual gifts.  We find some of the gifts listed in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4.  In those passages along with these verses in 1 Peter we discover that these gifts are not only for our own individual benefit but are also, and more importantly for the benefit of Christ’s body, the Church.  We are each given unique gifts to steward well so that we can share the many forms of God’s grace to others. When we speak and serve, fully depending on God to enable us to do so then God’s amazing love and grace is communicated to those around us and Jesus gets the glory.

10/21

Becoming a People of: Love

Ralph McCoy

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1 Peter 4:8-9

Above all, love each other deeply from the heart, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Show familial care to all with a willing and cheerful spirit. 

 

If we as a community are seeking to become a people of love, we need to ask the question, “What is love?” If Peter, in echoing Jesus’s greatest command to Love God and Love people (Matthew 22), is saying that love for other is our “above all” priority, then we need to examine what this love looks like in action. God is love. God looks like Jesus. Love looks like Jesus. 

10/14

Becoming a People of: Prayer

Rob Schrumpf

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1 Peter 4:7

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

 

The end of all things affects the present reality. We know how the story ends. 

That completely affects how we think, how we hope, how we live out the story, how we reflect the power and presence of Jesus in a world that perpetually rejects Him. Peter calls the church to be fully aware, in control of what we’re thinking, to align with what is true, to live in the reality of the Resurrection and to set our hope on the fullness of grace that will be realized when Jesus returns. The purpose of this ‘clear-mindedness’ is so that we can pray more effectively, more specifically, more attentively, and more continuously; to have rhythms of prayer, to be reflexive with our prayers, and to pray for open doors for the Gospel. 

10/ 7

Becoming a People of: Discernment Pt. 2

Rob & Lea Schrumpf

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1 Peter 4:1-2

This week we revisit 1 Peter 4:2 and explore the concept of discerning and aligning with God’s will;  weeding out some misnomers and cultivating a pursuit, a biblical and prayerful approach to determining God’s desire. 

9/30

Becoming a People of: Discernment

Rick Whitlock

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1 Peter 4:1-6

Much of 1 Peter addresses how Christians can live in hope and grow in holiness even when facing adversity. In 1 Peter 4:1-6, Peter says there are only two ways to live in this world: either (1) doing the will of God (4:2) or (2) doing what pagans do (4:3). We face the choice of either taking the path of least resistance, going along with values and norms and practices our society expects and accepts, or we can take the path of obeying God even if others ostracize, judge, or criticize you for your Christian faith (4:4). Christians must decide if they will meet God’s expectations or society’s. But how? In this sermon we discover how we live for God’s will in our society. Because Christ Jesus suffered for sin, we too would rather suffer for sin than participate in it. We arm ourselves with the same resolve as Jesus, for this is the only way to live for God instead of our appetite to achieve comfort and acceptance in the way our society expects.

Other Scriptures Referenced: Exodus 20:1-17; Ephesians; 1 Peter 1:22; 3:17-22.

9/23

Becoming a People of: Mission

Ken Liechty

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1 Peter 3:8-22

A theme that runs throughout Peter’s first letter is one of encouragement to believers who are suffering.  As Christians we live in this world as exiles, people living in a place that is not our true home and so we may meet resistance to living God’s way.  As we become a people of mission, Peter calls us, as exiles to LIVE WELL, BE WILLING, and TRUST CHRIST.  To live well within the family of believers Peter encourages us to "be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (1 Peter 3:8)  He also encourages us to live well among those who do not follow Jesus and to be sure not to repay evil with evil but actually repay evil with blessing.   As exiles we have a willingness to suffer for doing good (verses 14 & 17) by not fearing man (verse 14), but revering Christ in our hearts (verse 15), accepting suffering as blessing.  We are also willing to share the reason for the hope that is in us (verse 15).  Christ suffered and died for us, but was made alive again (verse 18) and now all things are under submission to Him (verse 22), so even though we suffer in this life we can trust Him and share in His ultimate victory over this life to have eternal life with Him.

9/16

Becoming a People of: Honor

Rob & Lea Schrumpf

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1 Peter 3:1-7
 
The living hope frees us up to love and receive love, to find our significance and identity as image-bearers called to reflect the holiness and grace of God. As we are called to a new, hope-filled humanity, this affects all of our relationships, but especially marriage. This passage gives us a context to talk about the differences and equality of men and women, submission to each other, and God’s good design and purpose for our relationships. 

9/16

Becoming a People of: Honor

Rob & Lea Schrumpf

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1 Peter 3:1-7
 
The living hope frees us up to love and receive love, to find our significance and identity as image-bearers called to reflect the holiness and grace of God. As we are called to a new, hope-filled humanity, this affects all of our relationships, but especially marriage. This passage gives us a context to talk about the differences and equality of men and women, submission to each other, and God’s good design and purpose for our relationships. 

9/ 9

Becoming a People of: Freedom

Rob Schrumpf

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Having established our identity as the people living hope, now the question: “How do we live in this world? What are the ways and means, the priorities and purposes? Peter reminds them and us that we are sojourners, dual citizens of heaven and earth with our hope and inheritance housed in heaven and our ‘every good endeavor’ being played out in the stuff and everydayness of earth (academics, work, relationships, stewardship, etc.) This connects to the discussion on holiness as well - our purpose is essentially to reveal who God is and what He has done by showing a new way of being human that translates to every part of life. If Jesus is our authority it frees us to honor everyone, to submit or giving ‘grace-full’ respect to people in positions of power and to suffer their ridicule because we are walking with Jesus, the one who Himself submitted to suffering and death in order to bring us life and freedom.

9/ 2

Becoming a People of: Purpose

Rick Whitlock

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How do we grow spiritually? Peter answers this question in the early parts of 1 Peter 2 by giving three images that describe our growth in the salvation God has given: spiritual milk (2:2), spiritual house (2:5), and spiritual sacrifices (2:5). Peter seeks to show us how the hope and holiness described in chapter 1 are integrated into our lives as God’s people who’ve received his mercy and salvation. He shows that salvation is less like a train ticket to heaven and much more like how children grow into adulthood. Salvation is something you grow in, and ultimately we grow through desiring God’s Word, receiving God’s Honor, and offering God’s forgiving love to others. Rather than perpetuating the ill will, lying, fakeness, envy, and slander that characterizes our attitudes, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions, we live to extend God’s honor to one another. We honor one another as God honored us — though we rejected him, he accepted us.
 
Other Scriptures Referenced: 1 Peter 1:3-4, 22-25; 2:21-25; Psalm 34:12-14.

8/26

Becoming a People of: Holiness

Rob Schrumpf

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In light of our identity as Chosen Exiles who have been promised a Living Hope and eternal inheritance, Peter begins to address how we live it out and gives four initial commands or imperatives: 1) set your hope fully on the grace of Jesus, 2) be holy, 3) love one another earnestly, and 4) crave what nourishes your new life in Christ. Our actions, behaviors, and habits always follow what we desire. When our hope was set on things of this world, our motivations and actions (selfishness, self-promotion, self-pity) would follow suit (conform to the world), but when our hope is anchored to the One who is Life, all other desires wain and/or find their alignment and fulfillment in Him and His promises. Holiness paired with trust (not simply duty) is the response to His love and redemptive work on the cross. Faith is the anchor that holds us to the hope and faith deepens, gets refined and reframed in the midst of suffering, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, as we continue to taste and see His goodness, as we continue to grow toward maturity through abiding in His Word. 

 

8/19

Becoming a People of: Hope

Rob Schrumpf

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This is the intro of 1 Peter and our theme for the year, specifically that our hope is grounded in the reality of Christ and the Resurrection. It is a hope that is anchored, so we can have confidence, joy, and purpose; even in the midst of suffering and hardship. This is a letter about the identity, calling, and holiness of each believer as well as the church community, about cultural navigation and engagement, about the essence of faith and the Gospel. As Chosen Exiles who have been given a Living Hope, we are called to “Set your hope completely on the grace given us.”

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