Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation

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Do you feel guilty or feel bad about something that you've done...thought...said? Ashamed? Full of regret? Have you shared your struggle(s) with anyone?

In Psalm 51, David shares how he felt when he was dramatically confronted with his sins by the propet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-25): an extended experience of lust and adultery that led to murder and resulted in tremendous guilt and the loss of his infant son shortly after his birth. In this Psalm, he experiences the fulness and depth of guilt, shame and regret, yet in the very realization of how his sin is not just against Uriah and Bathsheba, his court and his nation, but against God...David experiences the joy of hope in God's forgiveness and ultimate salvation. This Psalm is a great example of why David was known as a man who was "after God's own heart." His example of dealing with his adultery, murder, lying and covering up his sin when confronted is a great example not only of true repentance, but of faith and hope in God's power and will to save. To redeem. To transform us into the people he envisions us to be.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a story about two men praying. He highlights the spiritual result of being humble and in touch with one's own sinfulness in a healthy way (c.f., Psalm 51:14-19). Repentance and inward spiritual transformation must occur in order for ritual sacrifices to be meaningful (c.f., Psalm 51:18-21).

Psalm 103 reminds us that the God who made us from dust knows exactly who and what we are. He made us. He knows we are weak and sinful and he loves and forgives us. He is full of compassion and grace. "Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness."

Hebrews 10 explains that Jesus is the ultimate "once and for all" sacrifice that really does take away our sins for good. So "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

God’s Discipline

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What do we think of when we think of being disciplined by the Lord?  Do we think of punishment? This past Sunday we looked at Hebrews 12:1-11 and the idea of discipline in Jesus' life and our own.  Jesus endured many hardships during his life, the greatest of which was to endure death on a cross for the sin of others.  It appears that the Christians the writer is speaking to had forgotten the inheritance God had given them because of Jesus' sacrifice.  In verse 5, he reminds his brothers and sisters that they are sons and daughters of God and that God treats us as children whom he loves.  Too often we can look at this passage and think that the discipline is God reacting to our mistakes, a punishment to be administered when we do wrong.  We forget the context of this passage and completely forget how Jesus fits in to the picture.  We believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and he was disciplined by his father.  In Hebrews 5:8 , it says that Jesus learned obedience from his sufferings.  Jesus understood that his suffering was helping him learn obedience, a reliance on God for strength, security, and comfort.  How do we see suffering?  Is it a "I must have done something wrong to deserve this" viewpoint?  Do we ask "Why me"?  Shouldn't we instead see suffering as an opportunity to grow as a child of God?  When we go through difficult times and endure hardship, God is treating us as His sons and daughters!As we go about our day to day lives, let us remember Jesus and WHY he did what he did.  Let us remember that the "source and perfecter of our faith" was looking to a time where he could be reunited with his God.  Let us remember that this same hope, the hope of a bodily resurrection and being with God forever, is ours as well.

The Christian’s Memorial Day

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Last Sunday was the day before Memorial Day in the U.S. as well as Pentecost Sunday.  For Christians, every Sunday is memorial day, as we join together to celebrate the Lord's Supper.
It was an encouraging time of meeting for the Augusta Church! We had several sisters from the Atlanta and Columbia churches come join our agape feast.  In celebration of Pentecost and in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 14:27, a brother said a prayer of thanksgiving for the Holy Spirit in Russian and his wife translated. Another brother prayed for our enemies and that they would see that violent actions perpetuated against innocents in God's isn't pleasing to God and would turn from doing evil in the name of that which is good.
We continued with The Lord's Supper and discussed Psalm 95 and the author of Hebrews speaking directly to portions of this psalm in chapters 3 and 4 by arguing that returning to the old covenant won't bring the rest that God promised his people.

 In using this psalm to point to the author's time (and beyond), the author says:

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God's people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4:8-16, HCSB)
Jesus, the one true high priest, is the reason we have hope to someday enter the rest God promised to the Israelites so long ago. As long as we hold on to what we believed when we first chose to follow Christ and be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, we can enter the true promised land, the new Jerusalem!

Word Becomes Flesh

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Emmanuel

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭14‬ HCSB)

The suburban group recently discussed Jesus' words and the power they can have in our lives. Much more powerful than any positive article we may read in the paper or any great philosopher's writings, the words of Jesus are transformative and give life; they are the very words of God.  God's word can't just be a source of do's and don'ts; it should dwell within us, be a part of us.  Jesus came to show us that God ultimately wants each of us to be His temple, a place for His Holy Spirit to dwell (1 Corinthians 3:16).  When we choose to follow Jesus, it is his word (along with the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit for those disciples who have accepted the message of Jesus and are baptized) that can continue to effect change in our lives and, God willing, bring others to Christ.

Passages Exhibit Field Trip

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On Saturday, April 14, 2012 many of us will be traveling to Atlanta to see the Passages Interactive Bible Exhibit, an exhibition of how the Bible has been written, copied, translated, published and distributed throughout history.  This special exhibit of the history of the printed Word of God is in honor of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) in 2011.

Highlights of the exhibit include: The Jewish Scribe Room, The Christian Scribe Room, European Translations, Gutenberg's Print Shop, Reformation Theatre (reenactments) and Early Reformation Bibles, William Tyndale, Jerome's Cave, Early English Bibles, Correction (how printed versions were corrected), and Adornment (artistic traditions in biblical production).
 

Exodus 6:2-9 The Four (sometimes Five) Cups of Passover

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passover sederDuring the course of a traditional Jewish Passover seder there are four cups of wine which are drunk by those present.  Each cup is connected to an aspect of deliverance mentioned by God in Exodus 6:6-7 (Read Exodus 6:2-9 for full context).  Some Jewish groups have a Fifth Cup which is not drunk, it will be drunk when  Messiah comes (cf. Matthew 26:29).

For our Midweek Bible Study we will discuss this passage and it's fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

We will be meeting at the Hayes' House tonight (Tuesday, April 10, 2012).

What Jews Can Learn From the New Testament

There's an interesting, free online for a limited time, article in the recent issue of Biblical Archaeology Review entitled What Jews (and Christians too) Should Know About the New Testament by the popular Jewish scholar, teacher, and author Amy-Jill Levine.  Dr. Levine is an Orthodox Jew who teaches both New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University.  She has spent the bulk of her career introducing the New Testament to a Jewish audience and getting Christians and Jews alike to appreciate that the New Testament is fundamentally a collection of Jewish documents intended for a largely Jewish audience and composed by Jewish authors.  This understanding of a common and shared heritage among Jews and Christians in the early centuries of Christianity fosters an environment where both groups can experience a deeper understanding and perhaps growth in spiritual depth from reading and applying the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the other New Testament writers.

The Faith of a Military Man: Luke 7:1-10

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Synagogue at Capernaum

Remains of a 4th c. AD Synagogue Built on the Site of Original 1st Century Synagogue Built by Roman Centurion

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus was amazed at this man's faith. He had more faith than all of Israel during Jesus' time.

Would Jesus be able to say the same about anyone in your church? Why or why not?

Where does faith come from?

What evidence is there in the text to support Jesus' statement about the centurion?

Moses Humbly Gets Advice, Raises Up New Leaders, and Israel Learns How to Settle Disputes and Issues By Applying God’s Word to Their Lives: Exodus 18

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Exodus 18:1-27

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