We often ponder the transformation power of the Gospel. It is truly amazing to experience the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We are able to live our lives free from the bondage of sin and destined toward an eternity with God. We praise God daily for the right to be called “children of God” (John 1:12). But what does it mean right now? Why is all of this important when we have more life to live in a broken sinful world?
The text of 1 Peter is a charge to the believer to live a life consistent with the assurance of our salvation, not inconsistently fluctuating with the fickle circumstances of this world. Each year, each hour, every minute, and second, we have an unchanging promise of being the chosen children of God for all eternity, through faith. This gives us the unprecedented ability to accomplish His glorious work here on earth.
Series Challenge: We would like to challenge you to follow along with us through this entire series of 1 Peter (7 weeks). If you miss a week, it’s alright; we upload the video to the website each week right after the service.
Just go to www.switzerlandcc.org and click on the “sermons” tab. If you are married, we encourage you and your spouse to take the challenge to read and discuss throughout the week. If you have a family, we are providing verses and questions for you to lead your family in discussion each day of the week in order to deepen your understanding of the text and to ultimately draw you closer to Christ. We are praying that you are not only encouraged each week that you come to church, but you are also challenged as you read the text of Scripture throughout this series.
Resources: We are providing three unique ways for you to take this study as deep as you would like over the next 7 weeks.
– First, we have added the daily devotions, as I have already mentioned. These are designed to take you deeper into Scripture by using other verses to help you understand some of the major themes discussed.
– Second, we will engage in our “Talk Back” study on Wednesday nights following the Sunday sermon. This time is designed to go deeper in discussion, and is centered on your questions in relation to the text.
– Third, we are posting “Deep Dive” videos on the website. These are short supplemental videos that will show the text and creatively work through some of the deeper connections stemming from translation and basic discourse analysis.
Pastor Joseph Smith
2018: United in Christ
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that
belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
When I think back on 2017, I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. I guess this is fairly normal for a pastor. I am humbled to see how God has used the ministry of this church to impact the lives of so many. In many ways, 2017 was not an easy year. We experienced both celebrations through baptisms as well as the struggle of loss. Through all of these situations we have experienced the consistency and comfort of our Father in heaven. Let’s take a few moments to look back over this last year and celebrate some of what the Lord has done. Continue reading
Just a few weeks ago I stood in an open-air church that represents the light of the Gospel in a small town called Pachutla in Oaxaca Mexico. I watched as approximately 20 church leaders gathered to learn and fall deeper in love with the Word of God. I was immediately struck with the thought that we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, our local church, even our country. We are a part of the Global Church that God is using to reveal His Glory. I only went to Oaxaca Mexico. How can I say that this is a part of the Global work of God? Because no matter where we have gone, whether it be Oaxaca Mexico, the Black Earth Region of Russia, India, or Thailand, we are seeing the same explosion of pastors and leaders being equipped by the Word of God. I want to take a few minutes of your time in this newsletter article to report the blessings we experienced through our time in Pluma / Pachutla.
This month marks the beginning of the end of 2017. That sounds very morbid, but you know what I mean. We are entering the final quarter of this year. The end of 2017 brings with it excitement and a renewed focus on Jesus’ work in the church. We can all look back on this year and see how the Lord has developed us as a body. In the spring of this year, we entered a Sunday series through the book of Ephesians. We were challenged with the call to unity and growth as a body. After that series, we entered a short five-week series on the reformation. We focused our attention on the five “Solas” of the reformation. We were challenged to understand the theological propositions within their 16th century context and apply the conviction to our lives as protestants. Then, we entered the Summer with the crazy idea of working through three of the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) in ten short weeks. We focused our attention on the “call” of each prophet, the major “issue” presented, and finally the “hope” presented in each one for God’s people. The last and final week of that series we focused on the messianic hope presented in each prophet and how it was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The summer of 2017 has proven to be a short summer indeed. I took the last few weeks of July for vacation and my son and I went to the Florida Keys. When my son realized how close we are to the start date of school he began his prominent ten-year-old lament. This primed my thoughts toward the accomplishments over this summer, as well as what is in store for the fall. If you have been at Switzerland Community Church for any length of time, you know that our continued prayer is that the Word of God becomes an unquenchable thirst in the lives of every member. I am continually overwhelmed by the power and beauty within the pages of Scripture. May the passion and excitement of His Word take each of our lives by storm. Continue reading
I wanted to take a moment and ask you to join us for something very important. We will be praying over all of our schools here in St. Johns County this next Sunday the 13th. The unique thing about this prayer is that it will not just take place in our church on Sunday morning, but rather, it will take place on each of the school campuses. Continue reading
Over the past several months you have heard us push Connect Groups. Pastor Jake even wrote an article in the March newsletter. Honestly, this idea is not a new one here at our church. On one level, Connect Groups are sort of a re-branding of what we have been doing with Bible studies and Sunday Schools, and on another, it is a new way to think about how to do those things. We are strategically placing Connect Groups at the center of our identity as a church. I thought it might be a good idea to explain why and how we view these groups as such a big piece of who we are. Continue reading
The theme in our children’s ministry for the month of April is “humility”. One evening this past week, my family and I sat around the table talking about humility. We discussed one of the main points on the God-time card, that humility is not natural. This point seemed to draw out the most conversation with the kids as we talked about how we naturally respond to situations. Most of the time, we enter a situation with “our” needs at the front of our minds. It is actually difficult to place the needs of others above our own. It is simply not natural (according to the perversion of sin).
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
We read this passage together and I was immediately struck by the significance within. You see, when we think about Easter and all that Christ has done for us, we immediately go to Christ’s obedience to die on the cross. We are overwhelmed by the passion week, beginning with Christ washing the feet of his disciples and ending with him dying for us all. We are rightfully overwhelmed as we realize the completeness of the way he loves us. From the least act, as a servant, to the great act of laying down his life. There is nothing that can stop him from loving us. All of this is biblically accurate. But make no mistake, in the passage above, Paul ventures into describing the heart of Christ as he chose to take on the form of man in order to save. God’s sacrifice of His Son on the cross is combined with Jesus’ humility to place our need for a savior over His rightful place in heaven. Christ’s heart of humility preceded his world-shattering act of obedience. This is the heart of the Gospel, and it has practical implications for all of us.
Do you ever find it difficult to communicate love? Actually, it is difficult to communicate any real emotion. We have assigned words like love, anger, jealous, etc… that communicate the presence of that emotion, but they do not do justice to the levels or degrees of the emotion we are feeling. It takes effort and sometimes struggle to communicate these emotions well. Those of you reading this who are married, you know that not only is it a struggle, but you must continually communicate them. The old adage “I told you I loved you when we got married, and I will let you know when that changes”, has never made anyone’s spouse feel all cozy inside. The truth is, communication (in general) takes work. It is not something that just happens naturally. A large portion of the struggles I see in couples as we counsel together can be firmly situated in the realm of communication. Everyone needs to take the challenge to hone their skills of communication for those they care about the most. Remember (as we move into Valentine’s season) that the greatest love you can give someone is to allow them to see you and know you for who you are. This is truly the most challenging task of communication. Continue reading
The Epiphany of 2017
“ ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ”
(Matthew 28:19–20 ESV)
The end of 2016 has arrived and we can now look, through a lens of hope, at 2017. This is the time when we always set new goals for ourselves and for our families. Advertisements on television will turn to the latest and greatest weight loss system. Gyms will start offering special deals to “get in, and get slim!”. In my house we work on a much more elementary level. My wife and I would love for 2017 to be the year of children “picking up after themselves!” Now I know that several of you reading this article just shouted “amen!” from your chair. For parents, this is the ever impossible, mind blowing, inconceivable hope for the coming year. Continue reading