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Deeper Wider

Today Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon kicking off a new theme for our next year together at Gateway:  Deeper Wider.

Beginning October 1st, we've begun reading through the New Testament together, with one passage from the gospels each day and one from the epistles.  Pastor Ed chose a passage from one of those readings to go over today.

Spiritually, we're designed to go deeper and wider each year.

We want to approach this year with a renewed sense of expectation.

May God make some new stories in our lives this year.

The daily devotional time and reading the New Testament over the year is not a quick fix -- but consistent habits do make a difference.  This is one of our linchpins for going deeper and wider.

In order to go deeper and wider:

We need to entrust all that we know of ourselves to all that we know of God.

We need to commit.

When you're more invested, you do more.  We'll reap what we sow.  Let's sow generously this year to our spirit.

Looking at Romans 1:16-17 --

This might be the most important passage in the New Testament.

God's power is in the story of Jesus and in the aftermath of this story and in the effects of this story.

Paul is also saying that it's for everyone, not just for observant Jews.

The historical significance of this passage is how important they were to Martin Luther, who began the whole Protestant movement.

We looked at what Luther said about this passage.

The "righteousness of God" is about faith -- righteousness given by a merciful God.

You don't inherit faith.

The righteousness of God through faith is about what God has done, not what we do.

This is a gift.

Are you in?

Expect God to do something new this year.

Expect some brand-new stories this year.

Spiritual Growth: Faith and Suffering

Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series in Philippians on "Spiritual Growth:  What it is, how it happens, and why it matters."  Today we looked at Philippians 1:27-30.

He began the message with the Don't-Miss-This point of the day:

God graciously gives his people faith and suffering so that they can enjoy fearlessly working in radical community to tell others the great news about Jesus.

In verse 29, Paul says that it has been "granted" to the Philippians to believe, but also to suffer for him.  Our faith is a gift from God.

The foundation of our connection to God is God Himself moving in our lives.  God steers our whole experience.

But our suffering is also a gift from God.

A frank conversation about suffering is critical for us because:

-- Suffering is inevitable, but we have tried to sanitize our lives in an effort to eliminate it.

We're undone when it comes, but it will come.

-- Our culture is growing increasingly antagonistic to Christian thought and values.

We will be opposed.

-- God uses our response to suffering to convince others that His story is true and powerful and unconquerable.

God graciously gives his people faith in suffering.

"Conduct yourselves" has the idea of living as good citizens.  We're in a new culture, the culture of Jesus. 

We were made for community.  In John 17, when Jesus prayed for us, he prayed that we would be one.

We exist to be used by God to draw others into authentic Christian community.

This is a challenge to us.  Into that, we're called to stand firm in the one spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.  We mustn't stay unconnected!

We need to invest in this and choose it.

Our church has together built a new building for our community.  Now we're getting ready for our next assignment.  We are to contend for the faith of the gospel, and there's nothing casual about this.  It's all in, or not at all.

Challenge:

Think about where you are today.  Maybe you're

-- Unconvinced, and you know it.

We're glad you're here!  God's inviting you into a life-changing adventure.

-- Unconvinced, but you don't know it.

We hope you're unsettled by God's assault on casual faith.

-- Convinced and looking for your next assignment.

You're not looking for a good church, but you're looking for your next assignment.  We'll be happy if it's here with us.

-- Convinced and you've been sitting awhile.

You're not yet connected and invested.  You may have legitimate reasons for this.  One caution is not to let it be an excuse too long.

-- Convinced and you're all in.

Pastor Ed mentioned that he loves working with you.

Let's pray that this next season will be the most fruitful we've ever seen in ministry.

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