This week Pastor Justin spoke about welcoming the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God. Paul praises God that the Thessalonians accepted the gospel not as the word of men but as the Word of God. They saw it as inspired – a Word of God, they saw it as revelation – a Word about God, and they were able to see it because their hearts were illuminated – the work of God. Not only had they received it (paralamban), but they accepted it (dechomai), which could also be translated as welcomed or embraced. They did more than intellectually grasp the Word of God, they internally received it.
As you are meeting together:
Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7 and 2:13-16 How did the Thessalonians respond to the Word of God delivered by Paul? What is the difference between knowing God’s Word intellectually and knowing God’s Word internally? Give some examples. Can you recall a moment when your eyes were opened to the truth of Scripture?
Read: Psalm 19 What stands out to you from this passage? How is the Word of God described?
Challenge: Share with one another how you are reading God’s Word. What is your plan for consistency (Time, Place, Plan)? What are some creative means to stay in God’s Word? How are you studying the Word together in community during this pandemic?
APRIL 26, 2020
This week Pastor Charlie primarily discussed the end of the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians. The goal of the sermon was to point out that, as a church, our hearts should be directed towards God while we wait on him.
Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, the passage from Sunday, as well as Hebrews 9:28 and 1 Peter 1:13.
Discuss: What do these three verses have in common and what are the heart attitudes God is looking for us to have? Waiting for God and setting our hope fully on him means we are not letting worldly things become our primary focus. Figure out what desires you have that could take the place of God as your primary focus. As you discuss this together, pray that God would enable your hearts to put him first as the primary object of our wanting and waiting.
Challenge: As you go about your week, continue to ask God to search your heart and reveal to you the things that you are hoping in above Jesus and his glorious return. Ask God to enable you to set him first.
APRIL 19, 2020
This Sunday we began our series, Thessalonians: A People in Waiting. In the first chapter of 1st Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul expresses his thankfulness to God for how He has been working in and through the church in Thessalonica. He speaks of how he knows they are the special chosen beloved of God, which is evident in their labor motivated by love, their work produced by faith, and their endurance inspired by hope.
These actions - labor, work, and endurance - were evident, but the Apostle Paul says that they were rooted in something that it not necessarily visible - the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love. When our heart is filled with these virtues, actions will flow from it.
Faith, hope, and love... In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul points out that the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13). From love, the greatest of Christian virtues, all actions flow.
Discuss: As you are (virtually) meeting with one another, read 1 John 4:7-19. What are some of the things we learn about love? Where does love come from? Based on these passages, how do we love one another? What must we first understand before we can perform the actions that come from love? What else can we learn about love?
Challenge: Having been encouraged by the love that God has for us, let action flow from that. Pray about how you can share the love of God with someone else this week. Pray that God will lead you to do that. After praying, consider who you can reach out to with words of encouragement, and see how God can use you by spreading the love he has placed in your heart.
APRIL 5, 2020
This week's sermon was about the opportunity that we have during the safer-at-home order to reclaim time for discipleship in the home. Pastor Justin spoke of family worship – an intentional time together with the household reading God’s Word, singing his praises, and prayer. This should be a simple, scheduled and mandatory time together with consideration given to Consistency, Brevity (length of time), and Flexibility.
Read Psalm 78:1-8 What stands out to you about WHO received these teachings, WHAT the teachings entailed and HOW these teachings impacted each generation?
Discuss: Start by considering the questions Don Whitney asked of his seminary students:
How many of you grew up in homes where family worship was practiced? How many have visited homes where you have seen family worship take place?
Why would Matthew Henry say of family worship “Here the reformation must begin”?
In what ways do you think the practice of family worship was easier in previous centuries than today? Harder? The same?
What suggestions have you found effective reading the Bible with children? Spouse? Other relatives?
What are some optional elements that families may append to their family worship gathering?
Challenge: What is one thing you believe God would have you do now in regard to family worship?
MARCH 29, 2020
This week Pastor Charlie told the story from 1 Kings 17 where Elijah finds himself in the middle of a worldwide famine, and we saw how God takes care of his people during times of scarcity. How relevant this is to our current situation with the world being turned upside down by the spread of the Coronavirus, and things we could previously count on, like stocked shelves at the market, are suddenly gone. In the text, Elijah finds himself in the home of a widow, and he asks her for some food. She tells him that she has only enough supplies for one more loaf and that she had planned to eat it with her son as their last meal before they die together. Elijah surprisingly tells her to give him the food first, and that if she trusts God in this way, she will always be provided for in this famine and her flour and oil will never run out. That is the principle we must dwell on in this season: the fact that as long as we put God first in our lives, the rest will be taken care of. As you are meeting together (virtually or with members of your household): Read Matthew 6:25-34. Discuss what stands out to you regarding what Jesus is saying in relation to our current times. In what ways must you apply this trust to your life? Discuss what "Seek first the Kingdom (v.33)" means for you right now. Challenge: As discussed on Sunday, one of the greatest ways we can be putting God first is by living generous lives, like the widow, when the anxious world tells us to do the opposite. Be praying that God would show you ways you can be generous this week
MARCH 22, 2020
The world will end, and what we now know will cease to exist. Jesus told us this when he said, “heaven and earth will pass away”. Jesus continued this thought by promising at least one thing that would not fade, “my words will not pass away.” Jesus taught us that his words and promises are everlasting and trustworthy even when everything else fails.
Please read Luke 21:25-28. This passage is part of a handful of teachings Jesus gives to end his public ministry. He teaches that the end of times will be marked by the Jewish temple being decimated, Jerusalem being destroyed, along with wars, famines, and diseases. Then he tells us something very important; when these things happen, we should look up (not down). This is a striking direction. Jesus describes many signs of the end of times, and he says these things will cause “fear and foreboding” because of what is happening on the earth. It would be natural for people to focus on these fearful signs! But, in the midst of confusion, chaos, and fear, Jesus calls us to raise our heads to look at him, our redemption.
This is instructing for our current moment. Many people are afraid. Many people do not know what will happen to their families, their country, or their bank account. Many people are flustered because we do not know how the next few months will progress. What does Jesus tell us to do when we are scared of what might happen to us? He tells us to be alert and be prepared for his returning to earth in power and glory. If we are prepared for that final day, ready to look at him and rejoice that our redemption has come, we will be prepared to rejoice even now in the truth that Jesus’s words will not pass away. He will come back. He will redeem all who trust in him. He will establish a new heaven and new earth. He will bring us into perfect peace forever. These are the promises, the words of Jesus, to which we cling!
Discussion: What about this world causes “fear and foreboding” for you? What about this present life causes you to faint, worry, be anxious?
Discussion: How can you lift your eyes off of that circumstance or problem and place your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith? What does Jesus promise or exemplify that eases your concerns?
Challenge: This week, when you catch yourself spending more time focusing on news headlines than on Jesus, practice lifting your head to look at Jesus instead of the circumstances surrounding all of us. Spend time in prayer this week looking up to Jesus as your redeemer. Think about him coming back to earth to restore all things and establish his everlasting dominion. (Daniel 7:13-14) Rejoice in Jesus's promise that his words will not pass away even when it feels like the ground beneath your feet is giving way! Let Jesus be the sight which grounds your confidence, especially in uncertain, scary times like these.
March 15, 2020
This week we heard many of the words of the 5th century missionary, Patrick, as we considered the command from the Lord to be "strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:1-9) as we go out in the mission that God has called us to. Patrick had to endure much: • Family and friends who did not understand and ridiculed and slandered him because of his mission • The leaving of worldly comforts to embark on a mission full of uncertainties • Going to a people that could (and did) reject and persecute him.
As you are meeting together: Read Joshua 1:1-9. What stands out to you about this passage? How does the command given to Joshua foreshadow the the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20)?
Discuss the ways you are tempted to fear when you consider the mission we have been entrusted with. Do you resonate with any of of Patrick's hardships? Discuss the ways God's promises address our fears.
The Spirit God has given us does not lead us into fear (2 Tim 1:7). Pray for one another that the Spirit of God would allow us to see the truth and be set free from our fears and fully embrace the mission God has called us to.
Challenge: As you are going about your week, be praying that God would reveal to you the hidden fears you carry, fears you may not be consciously mindful of, that may be hindering you in God's mission, and meditate on the command that was given with a promise: "Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for I am with you"
MARCH 8, 2020
This week's sermon was a walkthrough of the first seven verses of Psalm 37, with a special focus on verse 4: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Pay special attention to that command to "delight." Consider the words of George Mueller on the subject, a man known for having discovered the secret to answered prayer: “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.”
Discuss as you are meeting together: Is the command to "delight" in the Lord something you have thought about before? Is this something you have pursued? If this feeling of delight in God something that you would say is a regular experience of your life? As discussed in the sermon, the primary roadblock to the affections of joy and delight in the Lord are the other desires and affections that control us and take priority. Are these desires rooted in the priorities of God's glory, or do they come from our natural sinful nature? This is the essence of sin, to have desires that are a higher priority than the the desires and delight of God. What are the desires that you find in your life so easily taking priority? As you confess this to each other, pray for each other to be healed of this sickness, this sickness of not pursuing that which will bring the highest joy (James 5:16-17).
Challenge: This week, make a special effort to pay attention to your affections, your feelings. And be regularly asking God to remove in you those that are not from him and replace them with the desires He would want you to have, the desires he would want to fulfill in accordance with Psalm 37:4
FEBRUARY 16, 2020
In this week's sermon, Pastor Charlie made a point early on that believing in God is more than just believing he exists. To believe means we believe and trust in his goodness and love towards us.
When you are meeting together: Read Philippians 4:4-7. First, discuss what stands out to you about this passage?
Notice that the command given and the repeated is "rejoice always in the Lord." What are the things in your life that make this difficult? Discuss how you forget the love and goodness of God or the ways you find it hard to trust him.
Continuing, notice that we are told not to be anxious, but instead to present our requests to God. Howeer, not only are we to present them, but we are to do it "with thanksgiving." That is very important because he is telling us that when we ask God to help us, we should remember the way he has helped us in the past, so we can approach with confidence and trust in his love. Discuss the ways God has been good to you.
Now, Pray together in the model laid out in the passage.
Challenge: Memorize Philippians 4:4-7 and be in regular prayer throughout the week in this way, giving thanks and rejoicing while you lift up your anxieties and requests to God.
february 9, 2020
During the sermon, we looked at Isaiah 6:1-8. Here, after Isaiah is cleansed from his sin, he says to the Lord, "Here I am, send me!" We can understand there is an important truth being conveyed here: the call to salvation is also a call to mission.
When you are meeting together: Read John 14:13-17. What are the things you notice? What strikes you? Discuss. One of the most striking parts of this passage is Jesus' repeat of the promise that He will do anything we ask in His name (as in, anything in accordance with His mission.) List as many prayers as you can (write them down) that fit this description - prayers that are in line with Jesus' mission, that you can be praying with confidence that He will certainly act on them. Think in terms of internal things you would like God to do in your heart and external things you would like God to do through you.
Challenge: During the week, be praying these prayers and keep saying to God, as Isaiah did, "Here I am - send me!"
february 2, 2020
In this week's sermon, Pastor Charlie discussed Elisha as he followed Elijah with a desire to be filled with the same spirit Elijah had. The good news of the gospel tells us that we are given the Holy Spirit and therefore we are equipped and empowered to be witnesses for Him wherever the Lord brings us. In John 16:5, Jesus told his disciples that it is better for them that he leaves, because when he leaves, he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them. That is a very striking statement! Jesus intends for the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives to be so significant that it is better for us than if Jesus were to still be living in this earth in bodily form.
When you are meeting together: Read and discuss John 16:5. In what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you find yourself longing for and relying on his power? Why or why not? Also, read John 14:15-20. In what ways do you think God intends for the Holy Spirit to work in your life based on these words of Jesus?
Challenge: This week, be regularly asking the Father to be filling you with the Holy Spirit. Make it a goal to be praying this at least 12 times each day. Read and memorize Ephesians 3:14-19 for inspiration and insight regarding what this will mean for your discipleship as a Christian.
january 26 2020
As you are meeting together, read Luke 9:57-58. As Pastor Charlie discussed on Sunday, the fox holes and bird nests represent the way we seek to find our ultimate comfort and security in things the world can offer (money, jobs, relationships, the pleasures of this world.) As sinners by nature, we all need to be healed and transformed from this way of thinking as we come to know and trust more and more that only Christ can satisfy. And when Jesus said that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head, He was pointing to the fact that for Him and all of His disciples, ultimate comfort will not be found in this world, but by a trust in God empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In your life, what have been the "fox holes and bird nests" that you have run to for comfort and security? How has running to those things worked for you?
Discuss the ways in which the message of the gospel addresses the heart desires for comfort and security. Finally, pray for each other, that God's truth would continue to deliver us from this old way of thinking and living.
Challenge: Memorize Psalm 23 and meditate on it throughout the week by thinking and praying about these truths as you go about your day-to-day.
January 19, 2020
This past Sunday Pastor Charlie spoke about what must be our heart motivation for making disciples, which we saw in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah said he was "jealous for the Lord." To be jealous for the Lord is the same desire that we express when we pray as Jesus told us to pray "hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done." Our first desire should be to see and enjoy the glory of God, and for the world to see and enjoy the glory of God. Our goal is that this desire would direct and empower our disciple-making.
As you are meeting together: Read together Luke 11:1-13, which was one of the verses from last Sunday's sermon.
It seems that Jesus wants us to not simply pray for God's glory every once in a while, but to be actively praying and seeking this like a man who won't leave his neighbor until he gets the food he so desperately needs. With that in mind, discuss how much this has been a prayer and a desire for you. How much have you desired and prayed for God's glory to be seen and experienced? Since Jesus wants this to be our first desire and prayer, discuss what other desires and prayers have taken the place of this desire as the first priority of your heart?
What you are doing as you consider this is essentially confessing your sins to one another (read James 5:16), as you are confessing the desires that have replaced the love of God in your heart. But the good news is that according to James 5:16, God will heal us of our misdirected hearts, and give us a desire for His glory. In accordance with James 5:16, pray for one another, that God would do just that, renew our hearts with a passion for Him and His kingdom.
Challenge: As you are going about your week, wherever you go, be regularly praying this prayer of asking God to hallow His name and show His glory. As you are at home, pray for Him to show His glory in your family. As you are at work, pray for Him to show His glory in your workplace. As you are out and about, pray for Him to show His glory in conversations with the people you meet.
january 5 2020
In Pastor Charlie's last sermon (preached January 5th in Point and January 12th in Wausau/Merrill) the topic was Gospel-Centered Discipleship. As we walked through the book of Galatians we saw that the great tragedy of this church was that they forgot the gospel, and were trying to live the Christian life apart from the power and freedom that is found in the message of Christ Crucified. As Christians we need to constantly be reminded of what Jesus did for us, and that through faith alone we are united with him forever. As we rest and rejoice in this hope, our lives bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us as we trust in this Gospel.
Now, if you are reading this by yourself, stop what you are doing and ask God to direct you in how you can be reminded of this Gospel in your heart and how you can remind someone else.
Thing to discuss as you meet together: Pastor Charlie discussed how when we forget the free gift of the Gospel we begin to live by self-sufficient pride or self-defeating shame and fear. In what ways do you forget the Gospel? In what ways do you forget God's love for you? In What ways do you forget your need for his life? In what ways do you forget the sufficiency of Christ Crucified. Discuss how self-sufficiency and shame are at work in your life.
Read Galatians 2:19-20. The law has shown us that we are failures in ourselves, and the cross shows us we are loved by him and united with him by faith. How does this truth speak to your pride and shame. Discuss
Challenge: Memorize Galatians 2:20 and meditate on it throughout the week.