December 5th Worship Program
I pray that your time with us in today's worship encourages your faith and helps you move closer to Jesus as you discover more of his plan for your life.
Today we are concluding a study of the book of Ephesians through a series of messages titled "Who do you think you are?".
Today we hear Paul's words of encouragement as he leaves the church in Ephesus to live out their faith in the midst of a broken world.
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This week's announcements:
Today's Order of Worship
Songs for Worship
2093 “THE SNOW LAY ON THE GROUND”
219 “WHAT CHILD IS THIS?”
2090 “LIGHT THE ADVENT CANDLE” (verse 2)
CHOIR ANTHEM: “RISE UP , SHEPHERD AND FOLLOW
218 “IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR”
See A Victory
What A Beautiful Name
Midnight Clear (Love Song)
Ephesians #11: Victorious
Who do you think you are?
Life we want vs. Life we have
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
Victory in this life
Three ways to lose every battle:
1. Focused on avoiding the battle.
2. Ignoring reality.
3. Not recognizing the enemy.
Know your King, and who you fight with.
Fight like...we’ve already won.
Tools for victory
Belt of Truth:
Breastplate of Righteousness:
Boots of the Gospel:
Shield of Faith:
Helmet of Salvation:
Sword of the Spirit:
The Victors Prayer
Relationship / Ritual
MY prayers + OUR prayers
Obedience / Faith
You are: Victorious
Take it Home:
Spiritual Development: Listening
Training Ourselves to Listen Well
by Chris Schoon, director of Faith Formation Ministries “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. You were meant to listen twice as much as you speak.” I forget now who first admonished me with this bodily wisdom; it may have been a teacher, my dad, or some speaker at a youth gathering. I do recall joking about it with friends. It sounded a bit simplistic. But the phrasing found its way into my own conversations over time. My floundering applications aside, I’ve been discovering how listening serves as a central faith practice, teaching us to be more attentive to the Spirit than to our own agendas and priorities. As a faith practice, listening involves training ourselves to recognize God’s voice (John 10:1-6) in the midst of all the other voices calling for our attention. It involves learning to be fully present in the moment, setting aside distractions that keep us from attending to and responding to God’s presence around us. As we train ourselves to listen, two questions can help us: (1) Who are we listening to? and (2) How do we listen well?
Who Are We Listening To? The simple answer could be that when we listen as a faith practice, we are listening to the Holy Spirit. However, the practice of listening forms us not only when we give attention directly to God, but also when we are attentive to how God speaks and works through other people and through creation. Listening more directly to God often involves the practices of prayer and engaging Scripture, but it can also involve other disciplines such as silence and solitude. The guiding posture that shapes listening as a faith practice is an expectant longing that God, who spoke creation into existence, will continue to speak with us today in ways that we can receive and comprehend. Beyond these exercises of personal attentiveness to God’s voice, we also engage the faith practice of listening when we are attentive to other people. While we may be tempted to say that we hear God through pastors and other religious leaders, Scripture beckons us to recognize that we have the opportunity to see and encounter God in each person we meet. Jesus connects our relationship with God to the people around us through the two greatest commandments, by his emphasis on how we welcome him by welcoming children, in his parable of the sheep and goats, and in many other teachings in Scripture. God invites us to experience God’s presence, love, and character through other people. Listening well to another person ushers us into a mutual experience of extending and receiving God’s presence with one another. Not only does this posture help us hear God more clearly, but our act of listening well to others also recognizes and affirms the image of God in them. Further, we are invited to listen to creation. In Isaiah 6:3 we hear that “the whole earth is full of [God’s] glory,” and the Psalms frequently depict the ways creation proclaims God’s majesty and goodness. If these are not enough of an invitation to listen to creation, Jesus’ parables overflow with creational imagery, revealing more of who God is through closer attention to creation. One of the church’s historical documents describes how God speaks through creation as “a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God” (Belgic Confession, Art. 2).
How Do We Listen Well? Whether we’re listening more or less directly to God, or becoming attentive to encountering God in other people and through creation, three things can help us strengthen our practice of listening:
Consistency: Listening to God is enriched through consistency. Proverbs 8:34 declares: “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” As with any relationship, consistency helps to create space for learning to recognize God’s voice.
Patience: Learning to recognize and understand God’s voice takes patience. We live in a culture that expects immediate results while ignoring how distracted, cluttered, and fractured we are. We need to practice listening because our attention is often divided in multiple directions. Learning to listen well means extending grace to ourselves by being patient with ourselves and realizing that it can take time for us to recognize the cadences of God’s voice.
Seeking transformation: The spiritual practice of listening is different from many of the other ways we listen. The world around us trains us to listen for sound bites and to give our attention to bold headings. In order to process the volume of information coming at us, we have trained ourselves to listen in short bursts for essential information. Listening as a spiritual practice, however, involves a different posture. Instead of simply gleaning information about a topic, a person, or even God, we are invited to listen deeply in ways that reorient us and transform our relationships, our character, and our engagement with the people and world around us.
In his pivotal reflection on Christian community in the book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: “Just as love to God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.” We practice love—both love of God and love of others—as we learn to listen.
This week's prayer focus:
Sunday - Our Mission: God, give us a deep passion for the work of Christ. Luke 4:18-19
Monday - Our Church: God, develop spiritual growth & maturity in Your church. Hebrews 5:12-14
Tuesday - Our Leadership: God, help our pastor proclaim Your Word boldly. 2 Timothy 4:2
Wednesday - Families: God, help couples be faithful to the marriage promises they made to You and to each other. Hebrews 13:4
Thursday - Our Community: God, we thank you for those who serve in our community. 1 John 3:16
Friday - Children/Youth: God, help our young people commit themselves to a life of purity of mind and body. Psalm 119:9-11
Saturday - Adults: God, help our adults find and fulfill Your purpose for their lives. Jeremiah 29:11-14
Merger Prayer Focus: Working through Difficulties
Whenever people come together for a shared purpose, they should acknowledge potential difficulties. Each person has ways of communicating, expectations, or baggage from the past. These might be traditions, or unspoken ways of handling problems. They might be differing communication methods, or past hurts that people have buried. What are the difficulties that might be facing the new church?
Pray for an awareness of the potential difficulties that may hinder the church. John 13:35
Pray for an openness to new traditions. Gal 1:14
Pray for conflict and hard feelings to be forgiven. Matt 6:14
Pray for ineffective systems to be set aside. Mark 2:22
Pray for clear communication of expectations. Jer 29:11
Pray that turf issues will be minimal.1 Cor 1:10
Pray for a healthy grief process. Matt 5:4
Bible Reading Plan:
Join us for our 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan. 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, & 5 questions to go deeper.