2017 Teen Weekend
Join us for a weekend devoted to praising God, learning His will and forming Christian bonds. Singing for all ages on Friday night, Saturday sessions are open to all teens and then on Sunday we will meet for Bible study and worship. For more information click here.
2017 Bible Reading Plan
Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Isaiah 9-13.
Why Animal Sacrifice? by Steve Patton
Lots of people think animal sacrifices are a crude and primitive practice that shows how the God of the Bible is not who they want to follow. There is no doubt that, for a long time, animal sacrifice was central to God’s plan. We need to understand the role it played.
We are separated from a Holy God because of our sins (Isa. 59:1,2). Our transgressions of God’s Holy Law condemn us and a penalty must be paid. The price for our sins is life - “...for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The price for our sins must be paid, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Under the Old Law God taught His people the seriousness of their sins through the death of the best animal in their flock, a lamb without spot or blemish. But He was also showing His grace and mercy. He was willing to let the animal take their sins upon him and die in their place. Thus God could then count them righteous. In all those innumerable animal sacrifices they were being taught that they could be forgiven by the “atoning” blood of another.
When John saw Jesus coming to him he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The true unblemished sacrifice for our sins was the sinless Son of God. All those animal sacrifices were pointing to the offering of Jesus “who offered Himself once for all” so we might all be saved. Now, when we die with Christ in baptism, his blood cleanses us from our sins (Rom. 6:1-11). We no longer offer animal sacrifices because Christ “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12). Thanks be to God for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus by which we are saved!
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
Relatives hold a special place in our lives. They aren’t in the same category as everyone else. Being related to someone means that you have an unbreakable connection with that person, more significant than that of friends, acquaintances, or strangers. Yes, there are family relationships which are weak, awkward, or even harmful, but most of the time relationships with family are strong and cherished.
Matthew’s gospel records Jesus’ idea of family: “'Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?' And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.'” (Matt. 12:46-50)
When we understand who Jesus really is, we realize how incredible it is that He made this statement. The Son of God, the eternal King of the universe, said He was related to those of us who do the will of God. Righteous deity claimed a familial relationship with wretched, lowly man. However, it feels somewhat uncomfortable to think of ourselves as a brother, sister, or mother to Jesus. We aren’t worthy to be in that honored position! We don’t deserve such a glorious status! But Jesus said the words anyway. He grants us the status of a family member, joined together with Him as we seek to obey and glorify the Father. Let us remember this as we are gathered together this morning to worship our Lord.
This Week's News: The Bad, The Fake & The Good by Joshua Creel
The news has been on my mind a lot this week. There's the bad news of all the wickedness going on in our world. News like I heard this week of the increasing problem of child-trafficking occurring in major cities across our country. News that makes you agree with Solomon that "in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain." (Ecclesiastes 1.18)
Then there's the "fake news" I've been hearing so much about. I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as fake news, but it concerns me nonetheless. Based on Facebook and Twitter many of us are consumed with news, but most of these "news stories" don't agree with each other. I fear many of us are struggling with our desire to stay informed and the danger of becoming obsessed. And that is of concern to God because it may indicate that we have forgotten our status as pilgrims here (Phil. 3.20).
But today my mind is on good news. This good news provides hope for all who are wanting to escape the horrors of this world. This news is true because it comes directly from God and thus must not be altered in any way. And this news provides the context for our worship today because it proclaims that our salvation has been found in Christ! (Romans 1.16-17)