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Why Church?

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Today Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series:  "Why Church?"  We looked at Hebrews 10:19-25 to answer that question.

The passage tells three essential actions:  Approach, cling, provoke.

APPROACH

"Let us draw near to God."

Why?  A new and living way was opened up for us, and since we have a great high priest.

How?  With a sincere heart, and with the full assurance that faith brings.

What enables us to draw near?  Our hearts were sprinkled, cleansing us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies were washed in baptismal waters.

This passage begins with "Therefore" -- based on all that went before in Hebrews, this is all because of who Jesus is and what He's done.

CLING

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess."

Yes, church is for the lame and broken.  There is no category of people who have it all together.

We cling to the hope we profess.

Don't let doubt derail you.  In the face of distress, cling. 

Why?  He is faithful.

PROVOKE

"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

"Spur on" means provoke, prod, poke.

We're the kind of people who stray from love and good deeds unless provoked.

It takes effort and consideration.

We spur on in a particular direction -- toward love and good deeds.

This happens with one another -- It's not something we can do alone.

That's why we meet together.

You can't encourage alone; you can't provoke one another alone.

You come to church because you need to be provoked -- and you need to provoke other people.

Two Challenges:

1)  Set a church attendance goal for yourself.

2)  When you come, be more present.

Be especially mindful, especially observant and considerate this month as you come to church.

We finished the service with "Spurring Time" -- talking with one another, praying with one another.

After the second service, there were food trucks outside, and then at 2:00, two people got baptized, making a public commitment to follow Christ.

Nahum - The Unpopular Prophet

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Today Pastor Ed Allen finished his summer book study of Jonah and Nahum by looking at the book of Nahum.

Jonah was a bad prophet, but he's popular.  Nahum was a good prophet, but his book is probably the most unpopular of all the prophets.

He preached around 650 BC, about 100 years after Jonah.  The revival in Jonah was short-lived.

Why is Nahum so unpopular? 

Nahum is about God's wrath, and we don't like that message.  Many think his message is beneath the character of God.

What is the message of Nahum?

God had had enough of the Assyrians.  He would punish them for their history of unimaginable violence.

They practiced ethnic cleansing, conquered people, took them into slavery, and obliterated them.  They were inhumanly cruel.

Nahum was written after the northern kingdom of Israel was obliterated.  50 years later, their atrocities were still unpunished. 

What kind of God allowed Assyria to do these cruelties?  Nahum answered that.

God is concerned with justice.

There's unbridled joy at the fall of the oppressor.  You don't want God talking smack to you, as happens in Nahum 3.

Why is it important for us to hear from Nahum?

It's true.  Within 30 years, Assyria completely collapsed.

We don't appreciate God's justice because we haven't experienced injustice at that level.

We live in a place of profound comfort and safety -- that tends to dull our spiritual senses.

We must not trifle with God, but our lives are designed to do that.  Our actions do have eternal consequences.

We ended with a reminder that Jesus came.  And we need him desperately.

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