Our CityKids Director, Jessica, shares a message from 1 Samuel 3 about young Samuel and Eli. Jessica leads us in an imaginative prayer walking us through the story of the Lord calling Samuel. Hannah, Samuel's mother, gave Samuel a strong foundation of faith and dedicated him to the Lord to serve at the temple under Eli's mentorship. Eli had baggage of his own yet the Lord called him to continue to serve in the temple and share his relationship with God with young Samuel. Samuel was willing to serve and participated with God as he continued to serve the people as God's messenger. The worship journey for this week: "God calls, so we listen and answer." 1 Samuel 3.
Josh continues the discussion of our current prayers of the season. Service is a part of spiritual formation. RCC has church staff -- most of whom are part-time -- but the work of the church involves all of the members of the body. There are places for every member of RCC to serve in one of the ministries led by the staff. Be prayerful about where to serve at RCC. 1 Peter 4:7-11; Romans 12:4-9; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
This is the Hearts That Serve prayer: "Lord, we pray that our RCC family would be awakened to their specific place of service in our body in a way that enables them to be committed to our local church physically and spiritually through discipleship that forms hearts to serve the body out of this revelation and ownership of their roles as parts of the Body of Christ."
Kara shares her heart this morning about one of our newest "prayers of the season" (P.O.T.S.) -- Spiritual Formation. We have a responsibility to make ourselves available for the Spirit's formation in us and of us. Kara shares the what, why and how of spiritual formation and reminds us that (1) it is a slow process with the goal being to abide in relationship with Jesus; and (2) we have a part to play in our own formation and the formation of those around us. 2 Peter 1:3-7; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Luke 6:43-45.
Kara shared a quote from Dallas Willard today: "Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again: That’s essential. We can’t evade it -- formation by the Holy Spirit. But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. None without the Holy Spirit. But there’s always more involved. And here again we run into the problems of passivity over against activity. Here lies the deepest challenge to the very idea of obedience to Christ in our times. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake."
Josh wraps up our discussion from the Book of James looking at what the early church looked like and what a church embodies that reflects the wisdom James describes. The early church was a singing church, a healing and confession church, and a praying church. James calls us individually to wisdom but also as a community of faith to live that out collectively. To be a vulnerable beloved community and to go after those who have wandered off to remind them that they too are beloved. James 5:13-20; Ephesians 5:19.
Josh shared a quote today from Barbara Brown Taylor:
"Like the sinner, she is to use her vulnerability to engage the vulnerability of others, in a community where people agree not to look politely away -- where mutual confession is practiced, along with anointing of the sick and pervasive prayer, sin and sickness cannot isolate people for long. Through these communal acts of faith, attention is removed from the individual self and returned to the larger body, so that God has more room to work. In this way, the wisdom of God edges out the wisdom of the world, at least for today."
Josh continues our discussion from the Book of James. James is talking about wisdom. Where does it come from and what does it look like? James unapologetically declares that it comes from God. It isn't found in titles or positions or offices. It is characterized by humility. It is pure, peaceful, gentle, unhindered, and without hypocrisy -- among other things. The wise person is one who wants to hear from God. James 3:13-4:3; James 4:7-10.
Josh shared a quote today from William Barclay:
"One of the most difficult things in the world is to argue without passion and to meet arguments without wounding. To be utterly convinced of one's own beliefs without at the same time being bitter to those [beliefs] of others is no easy thing; and yet it is a first necessity for the Christian teacher."
Josh continues our study in the Book of James. Today, we discuss the power of language. What we say and the words we choose have the power to build up or to tear down. Our mouths can spread cursing or blessing. Pray that we would have the humility to repent of any cursing and the wisdom to be a blessing to others and ourselves. James 3:1-12.
Josh continues our walk through the Book of James. In Chapter 2, we see James encouraging the brothers and sisters to hold onto Jesus as he cautions them against showing partiality to members of their body. Biblical community discards hierarchy. We must be aware when we consider others for what they can provide us instead of inviting them into community because of who they are in Christ -- be they rich or poor. We have to put faith into action and avoid judging others' situations or statuses. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Josh begins a 5-week study from the Book of James. James is writing to the diaspora that is struggling, in part, with living in community with Gentiles. James' call to be hearers of the word and doers of the word and to "strip away sordidness." James is calling them to listen -- to be slow to speak and slow to anger. James could be writing this letter to us today as well. We have a choice to pause; to be less reactive; to use our words to encourage and not tear down. James 1:17-27; Matthew 7:17; James 2:17.
Josh shared three quotes today:
1) Archie Smith Jr. -- "Words Create Worlds of Meaning. We use words to express ourselves; to convince and convict ourselves and others; to describe, name, blame, or label things; to win arguments; to sell an idea or object; to lecture; to expound a point, explain things into or out of existence, persuade, condole, console, counsel; to announce, denounce, deceive; to ask someone to marry; to declare war and make peace; to sentence someone, diagnose a condition, analyze a problem, deliberate or negotiate a deal. We cannot get along without words. Words can alarm, harm, uplift, inspire, degrade, or silence someone. They can reveal our inner thoughts. Where would we be without words?"
2) William Barclay -- "Cultivate virtues of a discerning welcoming spirit. Listening and being listened to opens doors for the righteousness of God in communities."
3) William Barclay -- "What you hear in the holy place must be lived out in the marketplace."
Josh continues the discussion from John 6 surrounding Jesus' talk about the bread of life and how that includes the eucharist but is also more than that. Proverbs 9 mentions wisdom and folly. The wisdom we seek originates in the bread of life and the person of Jesus. As we journey with Jesus, we partake in the bread and water He is offering and develop the wisdom spoken of in Proverbs. Proverbs 9; John 6:51-58; Luke 24:30-32.