Have you ever experienced something that changed your life? What about something that changed everything? For the first followers of Jesus, this is what the first Easter was, a moment in time that changed everything for them, and it has the power to change everything for us as well.
Palm Sunday: In DC As It Is In Heaven
When Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray, the first thing He tells them ask for is not for forgiveness, or provision, but for God’s Kingdom to come. It was that important to Him. What does it mean for us today to pray for God’s Kingdom to come? What would it look like if God’s will would be done in DC as it is in Heaven?
The How of Prayer Pt. II: Corporate Prayer
As we’ve been learning, prayer is a multifaceted discipline. There are different ways in which we can engage prayer. We put a lot of emphasis on the ways in which we can pray individually, but one of the most important and least talked about ways in which we should pray is Corporate Prayer. There is something special that happens when the people of God come together to pray.
The How of Prayer Pt. I: Devotional Forms of Prayer
This week during our prayer series we focused on the “how” of prayer. Through the use of ancient tools and Biblical principals we experienced how to engage the presence of the Lord in the practice of prayer to gain an everlasting peace that comes through a deep, meaningful connection with him.
The Role of Prayer Pt. II: Intercession and God’s Will
This is what I think prayer should look like: "We come before God believing that God responds, that He answers, and we can plead God for a better future… and then, because we are in a relationship with our Father, a God who is sovereign, who we believe that is willing everything in the universe for ultimate good, we are able to have the faith to submit to God, and tell God: but not my will, but yours.
Passage: The Golden Calf
32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-neckedpeople. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
The Role of Prayer Pt. I: How the World Really Works
I don’t know why God answers some prayers, and doesn’t answer others. I don’t know why certain things happen. I can’t even guarantee you that God will answer your prayer. What I can tell you, is that God loves you. The Apostle Paul believed that ultimately that was the most important thing, was that God loved him. And if God loved him, no matter what else was happening, he was going to be ok.
Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
The Why of Prayer Part I: The Most Important Thing We Can Do
Ultimately the thing that we need is not more technique or more competence but rather, more God.
Passage: Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Telling Your Story: As You Go, Ep. 2
This sermon is about telling our story as part of discipleship, and God writing our story. Brian & Amy share their story and encourage everyone to share their story in order to put others at ease, sharpen their story, and share the experiences with God in their life.
Crucial Conversations: As You Go, Ep. 1
Renewal: DNA, Ep. 3
This is our vision for renewal at Encounter. That when people encounter Jesus in our midst they would be renewed holistically. That just like the Scriptures say they would be made new spiritually. But that that renewal would have a tangible effect in their life and in the lives of the people around them.
Passage: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Presence & Encounter: DNA, Ep. 2
Most people don’t wake up on a Sunday morning wanting to go to church if they are not Christians. But if you are present in the life of those people, they can encounter Jesus through their interactions with you.
Passage: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.
The Mission: DNA, Ep. 1
The ultimate witness of Jesus is God’s presence in the midst of the church. And the mission of the church is to facilitate the environment where the encounter between people and God can happen.
Passage: “24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”
1 Corinthians 14:24
Expect the Unexpected
As we get ready to enter into 2019… we have plans, and hopes, and dreams. But the reality is, we don't know what's going to happen…. 2019 is a year full of unknowns, and that's a good thing, because that means that it is also a year full of possibilities for God to do awesome things that we do not expect. What if we took whatever step of obedience and faith the Holy Spirit calls us into, without fear? Because we may get to see God move in our life in ways that we can't even imagine.
Passage: 3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
Advent - Week 2
Zechariah embraces praise over cynicism. Why do we sing on Sunday mornings? Because we want to show you how to praise regardless of what’s going on in your life when you walk through that door. Regardless of the heartbreak, regardless of the doubts, regardless of the fear, regardless of the disappointment, we give you this space and we open our mouths and sing about the God who doesn’t change, about the God who has done it in the past and will do it again. This is what I think the song of Zechariah teaches us. The song of Zechariah teaches us that God is on the move.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Advent - Week 1
Advent is about waiting. Is about the time between the giving of the promise and its fulfillment. For Christmas to have the meaning and hope it has we need to be aware and open our eyes to the reality that while Jesus has already come, and all of the blessings and promises of God have come with him. We are also, still waiting, for His return. And we need to learn how to wait well. Because if we don’t, we are going to give in to despair.
Passage: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Reading the Scriptures - Spiritual Practices, Pt. II, Ep. 2
The disciplines of study and meditation are not just necessary for knowing the Lord better. More importantly they are essential for diving deep into a relationship with Him. When we slow down in our study we gain a sweeter than honey blessing to our dry and weary souls.
Passage: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
How To Pray - Spiritual Practices Pt. II, Ep. 1
Most of us see prayer either as some obligation or as a transaction. We pray either because that’s what a good Christian is supposed to do, or to keep God off our backs, or to get stuff. But in the Scriptures, the primary reason to pray is to encounter God. The issue is not how long we should pray or what we should say. The issue is: Do we want to have a relationship with God?
Passage: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.””
Sabbath - Work in Eden, Ep. 7
One of the centerpieces of Jesus’ message is the idea of rest…but it is a different kind of rest. Jesus calls it “rest for your souls.” When we make work our idol, we look to work to provide ultimate fulfillment and acceptance, and what Jesus is saying is that if we are living like that, it’s not only our body and our mind that is tired, but our soul, and no amount of days off will give us rest. We need a better, deeper Sabbath. So Jesus invites us and says “come to me" and I will give you the rest that you really need, rest for your soul.
Passage: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
Things of my Father - Work in Eden, Ep. 6
Living out the kingdom life means that everything must remain before the throne and under the authority of the ruler. Everything must be held loosely. What tangibles are you holding onto? What are you gripping tightly? Have they become your security? Are you a slave to some image? Some name you're trying to live up to? Some job? Some possession? Some person? If you cannot let it go, it's a priority to you. It is impossible to be a slave to things or people and at the same time be a faithful servant of God.
Passage: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”