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?
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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?
In Philippians 2:19-30, we are introduced to two of Paul's friends and co-workers, Timothy and Epaphroditus, men whose character was reflected in their sacrificial actions. How did they become the men they were and how can we begin to follow their examples?
After Paul writes of Christ's obedience even to the point of death on the cross, he now exhorts the Philippian church to continue in obedience, working out their salvation. We talk a lot about growing in obedience, or sanctification, in the church. But how does this actually work? And why is this so important for Christians if we'll be made perfect when we go to heaven? This passage will show us how obedience works and and why it's crucial to the Christian and to the world.
There's an old Jewish joke that says if you've got two rabbis you've probably got three opinions. Often the church seems like that as well -- theological differences, interpersonal conflicts, competing values and priorities, and more. Our Scripture passage this Sunday is an exhortation to unity through humility. But how can we grow in humility? Philippian 2:1-11 will show us.
When you think of telling people about your faith in Jesus, what kinds of feelings come up? Most likely, fearis one of the emotions you feel. Fear of alienating a friend, offending someone, looking "weird," being labeled "intolerant" or "narrow-minded." In this week's passage, Paul reminds us of an amazing truth: because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, we are full-fledged citizens of heaven. And because of this, we can feel free to share our faith with others without fear, no matter what happens! (Remember, Paul wrote this letter from prison, so he knows what he's talking about!)
As we learned last week, Paul is writing from prison. Yet he says, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed" (1:20). How does Paul remain hopeful despite his imprisonment and potential execution? And how can we have the same kind of hope no matter the circumstances we face in our lives?
Some "diagnostic questions" to help us think about what we're putting our hope in:
- What do I worry about most? Our worries indicate our worship (worship isn't just something "religious" people do).
- What is it that, if I were to fail at it or lose it, would cause me to not want to live?
- What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about? Where do I fixate my thoughts?
- In what do I take the most pride? What is the first thing I want people to know about me?
- What prayer, if left unanswered, would make me think about walking away from God?
- What do I expect out of life in order to be happy?
This is Pastor Larry Showalter's final sermon as Senior Pastor of Ruggles Baptist Church.
The subtitle of this sermon is, "Is What's Happening to Me Accomplishing Something for God?"
You are where you are. But what are you doing here in this workplace, in this academic institution, living in this neighborhood? Does God really have a purpose for your being here, or are your circumstances coincidental? Are you “lucky” or “unlucky” to be where you are?
Here’s a challenge: to receive your circumstances as from God, and to discover why he has you where you are. Is what’s happening to me/you accomplishing something for God?
Last Sunday, we looked at how we can practically follow Paul's example of love for the Philippian church through looking back (remembering what God has done in our lives) and looking forward (expecting what God is doing and will do in our lives). This week, we see Paul's specific prayer for the church: "that your love may abound more and more" (1:9). This is God's prayer for us as a church as well. How can we continue to move forward in love so that it abounds more and more in our individual lives and in our church?
God invites us to come as we are, but not to stay as we are. This Sunday we begin our summer sermon series in Philippians, where the Lord encourages us to "continue to work out your salvation...for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."