2019

The Church as Spiritual Formation

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Christians and churches should always feel a centrifugal force pulling them out towards proclamation in word and deed to the marginalized, the lost, & the vulnerable as well as a centripetal force pulling us towards the places, communities, and families that sustain us.
— Matthew Loftus
Personal sanctification is and intensely corporate and churchly act; being built up in Christ is being built up in the Church.
— E.L. Mascall

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1 Peter 2:1-12

1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

The Church as Light

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For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.
— John Winthrop, 1630

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Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The Church as Salt

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When we see our work as a good thing God gives us to do so we can bless our neighbor, it is inherently empowering; it gives us agency and encourages us to be creative in thinking of ways to dignify others
— Jake Meador

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Matthew 5:13

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

Re-turn to the Lord

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The repentance that accompanies salvation is a continued act... Repentance is a continual spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing… The work of repentance is not the work of an hour, a day, a year, but the work of this life. A sincere penitent makes as much conscience of repenting daily as he doth believing daily…The penitent soul never ceases repenting till he ceases living. He goes to heaven with the joyful tears of repentance in his eyes.
— Thomas Brooks

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Hosea 14:1-19

1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”

4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.

9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.

The Sting of Death

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The monastic discipline of listening aims to still body and soul so that the words of a reading may sink in. Such silence tends to open a person, and opening oneself to a prophet as anguished as Jeremiah is painful. On some mornings, I found it impossible. Like one of my monk friends, who had the duty of reading the prophet aloud through some particularly grim passages, I felt like shouting ‘Have a Nice Day!’ to the assembly. Easier to mock a prophet than to listen to him.
— Kathleen Norris

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Hosea 13:1-16

1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;

he was exalted in Israel,

but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.

2 And now they sin more and more,

and make for themselves metal images,

idols skillfully made of their silver,

all of them the work of craftsmen.

It is said of them,

“Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!”

3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist

or like the dew that goes early away,

like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor

or like smoke from a window.


4 But I am the Lord your God

from the land of Egypt;

you know no God but me,

and besides me there is no savior.

5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness,

in the land of drought;

6 but when they had grazed, they became full,

they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;

therefore they forgot me.

7 So I am to them like a lion;

like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.

8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;

I will tear open their breast,

and there I will devour them like a lion,

as a wild beast would rip them open.


9 He destroys you, O Israel,

for you are against me, against your helper.

10 Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities?

Where are all your rulers—

those of whom you said,

“Give me a king and princes”?

11 I gave you a king in my anger,

and I took him away in my wrath.


12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;

his sin is kept in store.

13 The pangs of childbirth come for him,

but he is an unwise son,

for at the right time he does not present himself

at the opening of the womb.


14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;

I shall redeem them from Death.

O Death, where are your plagues?

O Sheol, where is your sting?

Compassion is hidden from my eyes.


15 Though he may flourish among his brothers,

the east wind, the wind of the Lord, shall come,

rising from the wilderness,

and his fountain shall dry up;

his spring shall be parched;

it shall strip his treasury

of every precious thing.

16 Samaria shall bear her guilt,

because she has rebelled against her God;

they shall fall by the sword;

their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,

and their pregnant women ripped open.

Wait Continually for God

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Faith is a way of waiting—never quite knowing, never quite hearing or seeing, because in the darkness we are all but a little lost. There is doubt hard on the heels of every belief, fear hard on the heels of every hope, and many holy things lie in ruins because the world has ruined them and we have ruined them. But faith waits even so, delivered at least from that final despair which gives up waiting altogether because it sees nothing left worth waiting for.
— Frederick Buechner
  • Service Date: August 11, 2019

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Hosea 11:12-12:14

12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,

and the house of Israel with deceit,

but Judah still walks with God

and is faithful to the Holy One.


1 Ephraim feeds on the wind

and pursues the east wind all day long;

they multiply falsehood and violence;

they make a covenant with Assyria,

and oil is carried to Egypt.


2 The Lord has an indictment against Judah

and will punish Jacob according to his ways;

he will repay him according to his deeds.

3 In the womb he took his brother by the heel,

and in his manhood he strove with God.

4 He strove with the angel and prevailed;

he wept and sought his favor.

He met God at Bethel,

and there God spoke with us—

5 the Lord, the God of hosts,

the Lord is his memorial name:

6 “So you, by the help of your God, return,

hold fast to love and justice,

and wait continually for your God.”


7 A merchant, in whose hands are false balances,

he loves to oppress.

8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich;

I have found wealth for myself;

in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”

9 I am the Lord your God

from the land of Egypt;

I will again make you dwell in tents,

as in the days of the appointed feast.


10 I spoke to the prophets;

it was I who multiplied visions,

and through the prophets gave parables.

11 If there is iniquity in Gilead,

they shall surely come to nothing:

in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls;

their altars also are like stone heaps

on the furrows of the field.

12 Jacob fled to the land of Aram;

there Israel served for a wife,

and for a wife he guarded sheep.

13 By a prophet the Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,

and by a prophet he was guarded.

14 Ephraim has given bitter provocation;

so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him

and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.

How Can I Give You Up?

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When God can find in man no reason for showing mercy to him, he still finds a reason for displaying his mercy, for he looks for it in his own heart.
— C.H. Spurgeon
  • Service Date: August 4, 2019

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Hosea 11: 1-11

1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4 I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.

5 They shall not return to the land of Egypt,
but Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
6 The sword shall rage against their cities,
consume the bars of their gates,
and devour them because of their own counsels.
7 My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.

8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
9 I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

10 They shall go after the Lord;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord.


You Don't Get What You Deserve

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Grace perennially waits for us to accept our destruction and, in that acceptance, to discover the power of the Resurrection and the Life.
— Robert Farrar Capon
Until we acknowledge our sin and guilt, we will never come to discover that it can be forgiven. But when we do, actual forgiveness begins to give rise to an awareness of forgiveness psychologically, spiritually, mentally, inwardly. With that comes an increasing sense that the bondage of guilt has been broken. At last, we are set free. Wonder of wonders, we discover that at the very heart of the gospel is this fact: God has taken our guilt upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.
— Sinclair Ferguson

Hosea 9

1 Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute's wages
on all threshing floors.
2 Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
3 They shall not remain in the land of the Lord,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.

4 They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners' bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the Lord.

5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the Lord?
6 For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.

7 The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
8 The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler's snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
9 They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.

10 Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim's glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
12 Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm[a] planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.[b]
14 Give them, O Lord—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.

15 Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.

16 Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
17 My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.

Reap the Whirlwind

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Glimpsed through the lens of a cross, what looks like the end may be only the beginning. The birth pangs of a new pathology, one of mercy—for failed teachers and their flailing students, lonely pastors and their exhausted congregants, addicts and their enablers, Christians and non-Christians, you and me.
— David Zahl

Hosea 8

1 Set the trumpet to your lips!
    One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord,
because they have transgressed my covenant
    and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
    “My God, we—Israel—know you.”
Israel has spurned the good;
    the enemy shall pursue him.

They made kings, but not through me.
    They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
    for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
    My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
    it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
    shall be broken to pieces.

For they sow the wind,
    and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
    it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
    strangers would devour it.
Israel is swallowed up;
    already they are among the nations
    as a useless vessel.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
    a wild donkey wandering alone;
    Ephraim has hired lovers.
10 Though they hire allies among the nations,
    I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
    because of the tribute.

11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
    they have become to him altars for sinning.
12 Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
    they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for my sacrificial offerings,
    they sacrifice meat and eat it,
    but the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
    and punish their sins;
    they shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker
    and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
    so I will send a fire upon his cities,
    and it shall devour her strongholds.

Would Redeem

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I remember when I first became a Christian and I saw God everywhere. I heard Him everywhere. His voice yelled at me from every place. And I’ve been spending ever since I became a mature Christian getting back to that place where I hear Him... It’s everywhere. The wisdom of God cries from everything that you see. God uses the metaphors of your life to teach you the profound truths that he’ll apply to your existential reality. Listen for Him.
— Steve Brown

Hosea 6:4-7:16

 4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
    What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
    like the dew that goes early away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
    I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
    and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
    the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
    there they dealt faithlessly with me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
    tracked with blood.
As robbers lie in wait for a man,
    so the priests band together;
they murder on the way to Shechem;
    they commit villainy.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
    Ephraim's whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.

11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.

When I restore the fortunes of my people,
when I would heal Israel,
    the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
    and the evil deeds of Samaria,
for they deal falsely;
    the thief breaks in,
    and the bandits raid outside.
But they do not consider
    that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
    they are before my face.
By their evil they make the king glad,
    and the princes by their treachery.
They are all adulterers;
    they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
    from the kneading of the dough
    until it is leavened.
On the day of our king, the princes
    became sick with the heat of wine;
    he stretched out his hand with mockers.
For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
    all night their anger smolders;
    in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven,
    and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
    and none of them calls upon me.

Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
    Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers devour his strength,
    and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
    and he knows it not.
10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
    yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
    nor seek him, for all this.

11 Ephraim is like a dove,
    silly and without sense,
    calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
12 As they go, I will spread over them my net;
    I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
    I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
13 Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
    Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
    but they speak lies against me.

14 They do not cry to me from the heart,
    but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
    they rebel against me.
15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
    yet they devise evil against me.
16 They return, but not upward;
    they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
    because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.