Joseph had a very unexpected Christmas. Usually, we focus on Mary's faith and courage during Advent -- and rightfully so -- but Matthew zooms in on Jesus' (legal) father. It is through Joseph's eyes that we see that the salvation that will come to the world will not come cheap. Following in the steps of Jesus is no easy thing, but that's what we're all called to as Christians today.
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This week marks the first Sunday of Advent as we celebrate Christ's birth. Advent simply means "coming." Together with Christians around the world in this season, we identify with Israel, who waited hundreds of years for the coming of their King and Savior -- as we also look forward to Jesus' second coming. But even though Israel had expected the Messiah's coming for hundreds of years, we'll see in this series in the Gospel of Matthew how truly unexpected his coming was in so many ways. Indeed, our God delights to work through unexpected circumstances in history and also in our own lives.
What does it mean to be holy? It's much more than just avoiding sin in your life. This Sunday, Ruggles Elder Linda Smith preaches from 1 Peter 1-2 about the meaning, significance, and power for holiness.
We conclude our sermon series this Sunday with perhaps the most famous and extensive Scripture passage on prayer -- Jesus' teaching in Luke 11. This passage summarizes and connects many of the themes from our series: how to pray, why we should pray, and ultimately the importance of relating with our heavenly Father.
When things go wrong, is your first inclination to pray? Do you really believe prayer makes any difference? In one of the last passages of the first letters to the early church, James passionately encourages the church to pray for ourselves and for each other -- especially in difficult circumstances.
This Sunday we continue our series on prayer by focusing on thanks. In some ways, saying "thank you" is a simple and easy thing to do, to others and to the Lord. But Luke shows us in this passage that true thankfulness is actually something that is quite rare...and immensely powerful. Join us as we explore how (perhaps surprisingly) vital it is to regularly and sincerely give thanks to the Lord in prayer.
Exactly five hundred years ago this week, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany. This moment changed history! It began the Protestant Reformation, which restored gospel teaching to the Church that had become corrupt and wayward in its teachings. In God's providence, on Reformation Sunday, we are talking about confessing our sins to the Lord in prayer--a key theological theme in the Reformation. Can we confess our sins directly to God? Should we confess all of our sins specifically to the Lord? Do we even need to pray prayers of confession if Jesus has already forgiven us? Join us as we explore these questions, commemorate the Reformation, and celebrate our risen Savior on Sunday!
When you're feeling anxious or hurt or depressed, it's always a great idea to turn to prayer. But what happens when praying doesn't seem to bring us any peace? Sometimes the more we talk with God about our troubles and needs, the more anxious and burdened we become. What should we do? As we move toward the conclusion of our prayer series, we're going to look practically at what kinds of prayers we should be praying. This Sunday, we'll examine the type of prayer that can help us overcome the aforementioned struggle with praying, the type of prayer that gives context and motivation for all our other prayers, and the type of prayer that is perhaps the most neglected in our lives.
The Bible commands and models prayer both individually and corporately. But what's the big deal about praying together? Is it more powerful and effective somehow? Why can't we just pray by ourselves?
How does it feel to pray for something for the first time? How about the second, or third, or thousandth time? At some point in our lives, we've probably all felt discouraged in praying for the same thing repeatedly without any response from God. Why should we keep going? This week's Scripture passage addresses that very question.
How can we grow as generous people? This Sunday is our annual "Stewardship Sunday," which coincides with the beginning of our new fiscal year. This is the primary time in the year when we hear from God's word about giving. We'll take a break from our prayer series this week and delve into 2 Corinthians 9 with the goal of learning generosity and worshiping the source and pinnacle of all generosity in our Lord Jesus Christ!
In the last couple weeks we've seen from God's word the amazing purpose of prayer in relating with the God of the universe and also the awesome power of prayer to change our lives and circumstances. But if prayer is so great, then why is it so difficult? Why do we struggle to spend quantity and quality time in prayer? This week, we'll see from Mark 14 how we can overcome distractions and obstacles in order to realize the numerous benefits of a deeper prayer life.
"Prayer doesn't change things, it only changes us.” Is that true? Last week we saw that the purpose of prayer is to know God better, to grow in our relationship with him. But is that all that prayer does? Does prayer actually do anything? Does it have any impact in the real world around us? We'll try to answer that question on Sunday.
Last week we began our series acknowledging that (almost) everybody prays, especially when we get to the end of ourselves--when we realize we're not in control and we ask God for help. But is this the primary reason we should pray--to ask God for things? Or is there perhaps a deeper and greater purpose for going to the Lord in prayer?
Christian Holocaust heroine Corrie ten Boom once asked: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” How is your prayer life? Why should we even pray at all? Is there a right and wrong way to pray? This Sunday we're beginning a series, "Teach Us to Pray," so that we might grow not just in knowledge about prayer, but in the joyful practice of it, too.
The Apostle Paul ends his letter to the Philippians thanking them for their generosity toward his ministry. That's right, this week we're going to talk about money. Why is money such an important factor in our spiritual growth? And what's the secret to becoming more generous? We'll talk about this and more as we conclude our Forward series.
You might look at the news and wonder if our world isn't "going to hell in a hand basket," so to speak. But God's word for us this Sunday is that we should rejoice in the Lord always - no matter what circumstances come our way! How do we experience this kind of durable joy? That's what this Sunday is all about.
This week we welcome back Pastor Steven White to preach God's word to us. Steven is Gordon-Conwell graduate and serves as Pastor of Student Ministries at First Baptist Church in Hampton Falls, NH. Steven continues our series in Philippians, expounding the first three verses of chapter 4 on unity in the church.
"Heartbreak Hill." This little hill in Newton near Boston College is famously one of the most difficult portions of the Boston Marathon course. It comes at mile 20, near the end of the race, and has caused many runners to drop out before they can reach the finish line. In our passage this Sunday, the Apostle Paul compares the Christian journey to a marathon. Because of the hills of difficulties or distractions or simply the length of the journey, it can be difficult to keep going and not give up. So how do we persevere in this race and keep moving forward in our relationship with Christ? That's what this week's passage is all about.
In this week's Scripture passage, Paul contrasts his life before knowing Christ to his life now. He uses some pretty strong language! It's all for the purpose of helping us see that there isn't anything we could pursue, accomplish, or wish for ourselves in this life than knowing Christ. But what does it mean to know Christ?