This summer, the Chapel family will make Luke 11:1 our collective plea: “Lord, teach us to pray.” We will search the pages of God’s Word to learn from godly men and women who boldly approached God in prayer in their moments of greatest joy, sacrifice, pain, and confusion. Most importantly, we will learn from the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ, as He taught us how to pray even as He breathed His final breaths: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). May the Holy Spirit use God’s Word written and Living to connect us more deeply to our Creator as we cry out, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Spring (2 weeks): We will fix our eyes on Jesus’ gentle care for those who are struggling to place their faith in Him.
At the same moment the disciples are given the call to go and to become explorers by being Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the end of the earth, they are told to wait. Jesus says something to the effect of, “Go! Now wait.” They have just spent three years learning at the feet of Jesus. They have spent the last 40 days getting a refresher course on what the Kingdom is all about. What else could they possibly need? Why delay? Jesus knows that before they explore they must be “clothed with power.” This power comes from the Holy Spirit. If we are to be obedient to Jesus’ call to explore, we too need to be “clothed with power.” This series will examine the role of the Holy Spirit in God’s great expedition and teach us how we can, as the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians, “walk in the Spirit” moment by moment as we take practical steps to put into practice Jesus’ call to explore.
We often hear Jesus’ call to explore as an invitation to addition. We understand He has commanded us to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth, and therefore we get out the to do list. We start thinking of all the things we need to add to our already overcrowded lives if we are going to live obediently to Jesus’ command. Yet, in the Gospels, Jesus never appears rushed. He does not scramble from one frantic moment to the next. He is frequently missing from the action only to be found alone in prayer. Jesus does not model a life built on the principle of addition, asking “how can I add more and more activity to my day?” Rather, He models a life built on the principle of alignment: “How can I align every activity of my life with God’s call to explore?” During the season of Lent, we will look at how Jesus used even the most ordinary moments, those spent around tables sharing meals, to continue the great expedition of announcing His Lordship in God’s Kingdom. We will learn from Jesus’ example how to align our ordinary moments with His call to explore.
The Bible is full of great explorers. We read about men and women who heard and accepted God’s call to explore throughout the pages of Scripture. Abraham “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Esther, knowing the perils of the journey that lay before her, cried out, “if I perish, I perish.” The Apostle Paul’s expeditions included three shipwrecks! He even spent “a night and a day…adrift at sea.” This series will examine the lives of the Bible’s great explorers and teach us to long for the great adventure every great explorer experienced when they were obedient and set out on the expedition to which God called them.
Christmas represents the greatest expedition ever undertaken. God is the explorer and Bethlehem is the destination. God is on a mission to rescue His creation, and the Gospel writer Luke makes it clear that God assembles a crew to play different roles on this journey. As people are called to join God’s expedition to Bethlehem, they are faced with a choice to accept or reject this invitation. Some join the expedition with joy. Others are doubtful that an expedition of this kind is even possible. By examining God’s invitation to become part of His expedition Bethlehem crew, we will become more familiar with the nature and contours of God’s call to explore. By examining different responses, we will be challenged to think through how we are responding to God’s call to join His expedition in our everyday lives. May we be challenged to make the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, our own as we respond God’s invitation, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Before any great expedition the explorers must take time to get ready. They must take stock of all their supplies to make sure that everything is set and in place, but ultimately all their work is in service of going on the expedition. At the beginning of our Next 40-year journey as a family of faith, we believe it is time to go. In Acts 1:8, we read, “…and you will be my witnesses…” This is Jesus’ call to go. This is His call to explore, to begin the expedition. His disciples spent three years with Him getting ready. They spent the past 40 days with Him getting set. Now they are called to go. Now they are called to explore. Jesus desires this calling to be so clear, He even provides the map for the expedition. He tells His disciples that they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Why does Jesus specifically note these places? What is their significance? Does the map Jesus provided to His disciples still have an application in today’s church? These questions will be answered as we track this expedition and examine a scene from each location on Jesus’ map. We will take note of how it continues to provide direction for the journey to which Jesus is calling His church at the Chapel as we embark on our Next 40-year journey.
Everyone has questions. While our questions may be many or few, most of us have at least seven: Does life have a purpose? Is there a God? Why does God allow pain and suffering? Is Christianity too narrow? Is Jesus really God? Is the Bible reliable? Can I know God personally? These questions are grappled with by scholars, school children and everyone in between. They are the seven big questions everyone has when they get honest about exploring God. In partnership with many churches in the Historic Triangle, the Explore God sermon series, coupled with intentional processing and discussion in small groups, will help our community wrestle with these questions together and invite others to explore with us.
The great reformer John Calvin said, “There is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God.” Using not so subtle language, Calvin is getting at the idea that when a church worships God rightly, according to His Word, everything else falls into place. However, when a church succumbs to shallow, preference-based, individualized worship, that church is on a dangerous course that must be corrected.
During the summer of 2018, we turned to the Book of Psalms – the hymnal placed at the very center of the Bible – for God’s teaching on proper worship. Our goal is that by the time fall arrives, everyone who calls the Chapel their church home will have a biblical, rather than personal, view of worship.
As we conclude our annual focus on the kingdom of God, this series will equip us to practically live out the call to make disciples and reflect God's kingdom wherever He has placed us. As parents, grandparents, children, bosses, employees, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and congregants, we are all a part of the kingdom mission to partner with God in revealing His kingdom to the world. As we go, Jesus promises that He will guide us, strengthen us, empower us, and be with us as His disciple-makers.
The kingdom of God is often called an “already-not-yet” kingdom. This concept means that the kingdom of God is already here, even as we wait for it to come in a fullness that we do not currently experience. During the season of Lent, we will study the kingdom parables found in the Book of Matthew. These kingdom stories will teach us to live in the tension of the “already-not-yet” kingdom of God. Through these stories, we are challenged to live joyously and generously as we fully immerse ourselves in the kingdom. These parables will also teach us to live expectantly and alertly as we await our King’s return. In all, these parables will orient our hearts and minds not only towards God’s kingdom but ultimately to the King Himself.
The quest for wisdom is as old as time, yet Scripture tells us that true wisdom can only be given by our Creator. God's wisdom looks different than the wisdom taught in the world around us. As we study Proverbs together, we will be challenged to live our lives in a way that reflects the values and wisdom of the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel writers make it clear that Jesus is the promised King of the Old Testament. In Jesus’ day, there were many different ideas of how this promised King would come and what He would be like, but the Gospel of Matthew makes it clear that the ultimate and perfect fulfillment of these promises is Jesus. Embedded in these first chapters of Matthew are many Old Testament prophesies. The narrative of Jesus’ birth and even His genealogy are written to explicitly announce the fulfillment of these prophesies and to leave no doubts that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, our promised Savior and King.
Together, in the season of Advent, we will see how Jesus is not only the promised fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy, but how He is our powerful, preeminent, and prevailing King today. Studying the narrative of Jesus’ birth, we will see how Matthew invites us to make Jesus our King, our only King. If Jesus is indeed the promised King, the Son of the Most High God and our only hope for salvation, then He demands our complete surrender.