SONG OF THE WEEK: To God be The Glory

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church, Worship Arts Assistant

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“To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us His sin, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life gate that all may go in.”

“To God Be the Glory” was first written by the legendary songwriter Fanny Crosby in the 1800’s. The lyrics have long been staples in many churches across the world, declaring the glory of the Lord! Over the past few years, the Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC) Worship team led by Nate Green and Bryan Karas revised the melody of the song. This new version of an old hymn has been used often at CVC and is the title track of the album we released this year!

This song’s lyrical strength comes from its simplicity. God should be glorified because of who He is and because He has demonstrated Himself to be worthy of it! How has He done this? Romans 5:8 says that

“God demonstrated His love to us in that, while we were still sinners, He died for us.”

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Notice the word used there, “demonstrated”. To manifest, testify, to provide evidence of. This word choice reminds us that God was always love, but he proved it through His son Jesus. God has always been who He said He is! His glory and worthiness is not based off of what He has done, but rather declared through it! God isn’t merely worthy of our worship because He sent Jesus to die in our place, He proved that He is worthy of our worship! Jesus is the revelation of the glory of the Father! He shows us and reveals to us the splendor of Yahweh! John 1:14 reads

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The actions of Jesus Christ are not simply the reason why God is worthy of our worship, but through what He has done, we can know who He is. Love. Grace. Justice. Mercy. Compassionate. What an amazing God we serve!

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Song of the Week: Mercy Ran

By Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

Song of the Week: Mercy Ran – Evergreen

“For when justice called for payment mercy ran to die for me.
Come and praise the name of Jesus, the Lamb for sinners slain.”

Over this past year, Mercy Ran has grown to become one of more treasured worship songs that we use here at Cuyahoga Valley Church. This can seem a little surprising when listening to the song. The verses are very hymn-like, and the energy of the song doesn’t really rise until 4 minutes in (some songs are over within 4 minutes)! But the heart of this song is found in the lyrics of the bridge… “when justice called for payment, mercy ran to die for me.”

The verses of Mercy Ran tell us the story of the Gospel. We were once “orphans of the shadow” (Ephesians 5:8) that we were “bound by sin and darkness” (Romans 6:20) but set free by grace (Ephesians 1:7)! Now that we have been saved, this life is not our own. It is meant to be lived for the glory of Him who saved us! (Romans 14:8)

Mercy Ran‘s chorus tells of the wonder of considering that God Almighty would take the penalty of our sins through His glorious love (2 Corinthians 5). We should be amazed at the fact that God was willing to sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty that we deserved for rejecting Him!

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And finally the bridge of Mercy Ran… “When Justice called for payment, mercy ran to die for me.” Because of our sins against God, His just nature demanded payment (Romans 6:23) – this payment being death! We stood condemned by God for sinning against Him. In His divine and just nature, a payment had to be made. But God being rich in mercy, made a way for us through graciously giving us His Son. (Ephesians 2) Romans 8 tells us this “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
God has spared nothing in His plan to bring us salvation and extend redemption. He has spared nothing! He even offered up His own Son’s life. He has graciously given everything so that we could know Him and be spared the wrathful judgment that we deserve.

What an incredible reminder… To know that God held nothing back from redeeming and ransoming you from your self-inflicted sinful death sentence should be nothing short of life-altering. Singing these lyrics breaks my heart every time I sing it. Knowing that God didn’t hold back but through His justice, love, and mercy, died on a cross in my place.

“Praise the Lamb for sinners slain” because “Hallelujah. Jesus saves.”

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The Forgiveness of Sins

by Josh Stone, Cuyahoga Valley Church Pastor of LifeGroups

As we continued in our “Because We Believe” sermon series, here’s all of Josh Stone’s notes from week 11 as a resource to you.


“The Forgiveness of Sins” from 1 John 1:5-10

Cuyahoga Valley Church | December 2, 2018

Intro: Fellowship with God Requires the Forgiveness of Sins

  • Good morning
  • My name is Josh Stone and I’m the Pastor of Community Life, and I will be continuing in our series on the Apostle’s Creed
  • We are getting to the end of the Apostle’s Creed where we transition from truths about God to truths about ourselves and the church, like “the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints” and, today, “The forgiveness of sins” from 1 John 1:5-10 which was read a moment ago
  • You will need your worship guide and a pen today, so grab that if you would.
  • We are looking at God’s forgiveness of our sins, but also how that frees us and implicates us to forgive others, even those who have deeply hurt us.
  • Big Idea for today: Fellowship with God requires the forgiveness of sins

Pray

God is Light

  • Throughout John’s writings he refers to God as “light,” as in verse 5
    • John 1 says “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
    • John 8, Jesus refers to himself as “The light of the world”
  • In our culture, it’s hard for us to understand the significance of this phrase because light is all around
    • It gets dark around 5pm, but if I want to have light, I flip on a light switch, or I can go to Target or the Mall and have all the light I’d ever want.
    • But that is not the case for so many people today, and for virtually all people throughout history
  • In history, when the sun went down, it was total darkness other than a campfire or a candle
    • Darkness meant:
      • Danger, boredom, anxiety, fear, being cold
  • God is light
    • Light = safety, purpose, warmth. Also, it is used to refer to wisdom, clarity, truth
  • Scripture is saying that there is no substitute for the presence of God
    • God is the source of life, of purpose, of peace, of truth, of goodness, of beauty, of all things that are good
  • When John says that God is light, He is saying that God is who we want to be with, the one we want to know, the presence we long to experience
  • It is that basis that John gives us three tests to know if we are living in the Light or in the dark
  • In the passage on your bulletin there are three phrases that start with, “If we say…”
    • Let’s look together at those phrases to see if we are in the Light and if not, what we need to do about it

 

We have Fellowship with God when we Walk in the Light

  • [vs 6-7]
  • Could you underline? “If we say we have fellowship with God”
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
  • Fellowship is a very churchy word.
    • I doubt many of you have ever exclaimed, “What great fellowship we have had!” after a productive meeting at work or game of tennis
  • Fellowship comes from the Greek word “koinonia” which means “together” or “in common”
    • It’s that which we share in common, or have together, and it expresses a two-sided relationship.
    • This concept of fellowship is unique to the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had a bloodline and a history and a land they shared in common.
    • In the New Testament, we have fellowship with one another first through spiritual commonality, through sharing a spiritual family
  • We have fellowship, or something in common, with God. What could we possibly have in common with God Almighty? We have Christ in common
    • We share in common a relationship with Christ. God is light, and Christ is the light of the World. Through faith we have a relationship with Christ, which means we have fellowship with God if we walk in the light.
  • We are given two tests to see if we have fellowship with God

Test of Fellowship with Others

  • 1) Test of Fellowship with Others
    • This is surprising to me, because I would think that fellowship with God is about me and God, a private and personal relationship with God, but the first test for walking in the light of God is based on our relationship with others in verse 7
    • “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”
  • Our relationship with God is personal but not private
    • A relationship with the Father is a relationship with the family
    • Last week Pastor Joe talked about the Communion of Saints, the Church. Being adopted into the family of God means we must have a relationship with the other adopted children
  • Test Yourself: How is your relationship with your spiritual family?
    • Do you have fellowship with other believers? Are you part of a Caring Community? Are you in a Lifegroup?
      • If not, get in one. You will see a number in your bulletin where you can get connected to a Lifegroup.
    • Is there estrangement between another person in our church?
    • Do you have unfinished business with someone?
    • Those who have fellowship with God our Father will have fellowship with God’s children.

 

Test of Accepted Sin

  • 2) Test of Accepted Sin
    • Last year Deborah and I had some brighter lights installed in our basement, and the first thing I thought when the new lights came on was, “Man, I need to clean this basement.”
    • It’s easy to keep the filth in the dark, but once it comes out in the light, it forces us to do something about it.
    • Is there a dark corner of the basement of your heart where you hide your sin?
    • Is there a sin in your life that you simply accept? Have you stopped fighting and have you given up?
    • Just as mold can’t grow in the light, neither can sin grow when it is in the light of God.
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light.

 

We have Fellowship with God when We Say “I have sin”

  • Let’s look at the second “If we say…” statement
  • [read vs 8-9]
  • Underline “If we say we have no sin”
  • We have fellowship with God when we say “I have sin”
  • We have another test case with two options:
    • “I have no sin”
    • “I have sin”

 

Sin: Rejected by Culture, Gospel the Solution

  • In our culture today, it’s common to view sin as an outdated religious relic.
  • Today, sin has been substituted for words like “misunderstanding” or “disagreement” or “mistake”, all of which puts the blame not on an act but on unfortunate circumstances
    • Sin seems too uncomfortable a term, and I even find myself pausing before talking about sin.
  • But there are dire consequences for losing the concept of sin, both for an individual and a culture
  • We all see that our public discourse has become more and more polarized.
    • People view those whom they disagree as “evil” or “wicked” or “stupid” rather than as someone whom they simply disagree
  • Many cultural commentators from the right and the left note that we have switched religious ideas and political ideas where politics has become the religion of our culture.
    • We have become afraid to call out sin, but happy to call our opponents evil and our allies good, no matter what they do morally.
      • Without the concept of sin, moral right or wrong is not based on what someone does but rather which group they are part of
    • Have you seen this too?
  • The Gospel is the solution to this problem
  • The Bible says that we all sin and no one is perfect. God alone is perfect, and we need other people – even people we disagree with – in order to better understand what is right, especially in the arena of politics.
    • If you are a Christian, you may be utterly convinced of your political positions. But as a Christian, you also must believe that you are a sinner and you are regularly wrong.
      • The Bible calls this “humility”
  • As in verse 8, those who say they have no sin, that they are never wrong, deceive themselves.
    • If we look at our business, family, politics, money, or any other arena of life and say, “I have no sin. There is nothing in me that needs to change to be more like Christ.” Then we are self-deceived.
  • Followers of Jesus must hold tightly to the truth of God’s Word, and hold loosely to the belief that you or I have it all figured out
    • The fix to our polarization is an uprising of humble followers of Jesus
  • Those who say, “I have no sin!” are self-deceived.

Believe by Faith and Confessing your Sins

  • But there is a second group
    • Let’s read verses 8-9 again: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Christians must constantly be confessing our sins before God, because confession is a vital part of a relationship with anyone, especially with God.
  • Sometimes Christians think of the idea of “confession” as the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession.
    • But the Bible teaches that confession of sin should be a continual pattern in a Christian’s life, not merely something you do in a confessional booth to a priest
  • When a person receives Christ, when they get saved, they have what the Bible calls “Belief through faith” where they believe that the work done on the cross is sufficient to pay the penalty of sin
    • A necessary part of belief through faith is confessing that we are guilty of sin and in need of a Savior.
  • Belief through Faith changes our status from an enemy of God to a child of God
  • After you are saved, you never need to get re-saved to experience forgiveness. Christ has already forgiven you for all the sins you will ever commit.
    • Your status is secure.
  • Nonetheless, confession must be a regular part of the Christian life because it restores our relationship to God.
    • God’s heart doesn’t move away from us, our hearts move away from Him when we sin.
    • When we confess our sins we are taking ownership of our sins. We are saying, “I’m sorry.”
    • In confession our hearts are drawn back to God’s heart
  • If you have been spiritually born again through Jesus, then confession does not change your status but restores your relationship.
  • Illustration: Adoption
    • One of the illustrations in Scripture of our new birth is adoption, and adoption is also a major emphasis here at CVC. Three of our pastors’ families have adopted.
    • When a child is adopted, the parents commit to this child for the rest of their life.
    • When the child disobeys, and there is a distance in the relationship of the parent to the child, it does not mean that the child is less of a son or daughter.
    • No, when a child sins against his parent, his status is not at risk. But the health of the relationship and the intimacy with his parent is impacted.
    • Verse 9 says that God forgives us and “cleanses us from all unrighteousness”
    • In our confession, God cleanses us from the distance we have caused in our relationship with Him
  • Confession does not change our status but restores our relationship.
  • When we do confess our sins, God is faithful and just to restore us.
  • We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin! Here they are. Help me.”

We have Fellowship with God when We Ask Forgiveness

  • The final “If we say” statement is verse 10 and functions as a summary statement
  • [vs 10]
  • We have fellowship with God when we ask forgiveness
  • Maybe you are here today and have never asked for forgiveness from God.
    • If that is true, then you are saying that you have no need of forgiveness and you have no sin.
    • But God says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If you have never asked God for forgiveness, then you are saying that God is spreading a false rumor about you and he is lying.
  • Here is some good news: The only relationship that will never require your forgiveness is a relationship with God
  • If you have never put your faith in Jesus by confessing your sins and trusting in the work of Jesus on the cross to pay for your sins, you need to do that today.
    • You do that by telling God that you have sinned, that you cannot pay God back for your sin, but you want to be forgiven through Jesus and you commit to living as a child of God
    • Mark on a response card to let us know you did that today

Review:

  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness
    • Vs 6-7: We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
      • We walk in the light when we have fellowship with others and reject hidden sin
    • Vs 8-9: We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin!”
      • We must confess our sins to God
    • Vs 10: We have fellowship with God when we ask for forgiveness

Application: Jesus Paid our Payment

  • For the rest of our time this morning, I want to get into your business a little bit
  • During my study this week, verse 7 stuck out to me and I’ve been chewing on it ever since
  • Verse 7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
    • The first consequence of fellowship with God is fellowship with one another.
  • Fellowship always requires forgiveness
  • Jesus took the payment for our wrongs done to him, he absorbed it on the cross, so that we could be forgiven. He willingly took on that punishment so that we could be reconciled to God.
    • That’s what forgiveness is: it’s taking the consequences for someone else’s wrong.
  • We may say, “That’s not fair!” That’s exactly right.
  • God will never need your forgiveness, but he has offered it to you because he loves you
  • And, as he has forgiven us, he asks us to forgive each other
    • Every one of us needs to be forgiven and to offer forgiveness
  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness, God forgiving us and us forgiving each other.

Prayer and Card:

  • In the next five minutes, meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God this questions, “Who do I need to forgive?”
    • On bottom of your prayer guide, you will see two boxes.
    • One box says, “Today I commit before God to forgive _______.”
    • The other box says, “Today, I commit before God to seek forgiveness from ________.”
  • I want you to meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God, “Who do I need to forgive?”
  • Is it a family member whose decisions has irreparably impacted your life and the rest of your family.
  • It is an acquaintance that you knew for a time and did something to you that you will never forget?
  • Is it an organization? A Church? A boss?
  • Maybe the member of God’s family that you refuse to forgive … is yourself. Maybe today you will believe God that your sins are paid for and you have been given forgiveness
    • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, it’s not condoning or forgetting, and it’s not based on the action of others. Forgiveness is releasing that person of the spiritual payment that they owe.
    • If you are serious that today you will offer or seek forgiveness from someone, I want you to write that person’s name in the blank.
  • If you write a person’s name, you are committing to God that you will forgive that person.
  • Who is it that God wants you to forgive?

Time for Prayer

Resurrection

  • Forgiveness is extraordinarily costly, and it is extraordinarily painful. It’s like a death.
  • Jesus is our model for forgiveness. His forgiveness was extraordinarily costly to the point of death. But on the third day he rose again, and we get to reap the benefits of his resurrection.
  • Rom 6:4 says, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
  • Many of you have committed to God to do the hard work of forgiveness. God has promised you newness of life when you forgive.
  • That is my hope and prayer for you, that you will forgive as Christ has forgiven you, and you will walk in newness of life.

Let’s Stand and Sing

Grace Not Passivity

by Leigh-Ann Brisbin, Cuyahoga Valley Church Director of Women’s Ministry

When my husband and I were dating he asked me what I thought was the most important thing in a relationship. I said love and respect for one another and healthy communication.  I asked him what he thought was, and he said, “I agree with you, but I would also say it’s forgiveness, because that exemplifies God’s sacrificial and unconditional love. What Christ did on the cross for us is like he gave us a clean slate forever. He keeps no record of wrongs and neither should we.” He took my hand in his and moved it as if he was erasing a chalkboard. He said, when we hurt each other it will have its own consequences, but I want us to be able to address what’s really going on and then clean slate one another and keep no record of wrongs that may fuel future fires we will face.” This has been a foundational part of our marriage for the last 22 years.

Christ’s love and forgiveness for us exemplifies grace but not passivity. Christ was never passive.   One of the most defining moments in our marriage was a time where his love looked most like Christ’s in this way and he stood firm in boundaries that were necessary for our marriage and for our family.

It is true that God calls us to forgive as has first forgiven us. If not, we end up being prisoners in our own resentment and cause a wedge in our relationship with Christ because of our disobedience.  Part of forgiving is recognizing we are all human and imperfect and we will fail one another.  Part of it is in recognizing that we act in self-preserving behaviors and unhealthy coping mechanisms and usually underneath hurtful, harmful acts is a hurting person. While God calls us to be like him and forgive, he does not call us to inflate or magnify minor offenses or to minimize situations that must be addressed. Louis B. Smeades the author of Forgive and Forget and also The Art of Forgiving, helps bring clarity on when our flesh gets entangled or we have a skewed perspective of forgiveness. In his book Forgive and Forget he says,

“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be it can make you into a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.”

Smeades sheds light on situations that he calls minor offenses and reunions/restoring in relationships. Minor offenses are acts that are done innocently or with pure motives. He states,

“Not every hurt calls for repentance or in need of forgiveness, any more than every cut needs stitching. In the cross-town traffic of human relationships, we have limitless chances to rub people the wrong way, thoughtlessly, carelessly and stupidly.  Mini wrongs can be soothed with a modest gesture that falls well short of repentance and in need of forgiveness.”

He also makes note that it is not always healthy to reconcile or reunite right away, or even at all, in every act of forgiveness by stating, “Forgiveness is something that is done within a person’s heart and mind and does not obligate us to go back. Forgiving happens inside the wounded person while reunion happens in a relationship between two people. Forgiving has no strings attached and reunion has several strings attached.”  I advise the people that I work with that those strings include boundaries that send the message “I will not let you hurt me (or our family)” and “trust is something that must be rebuilt”.

When I counsel couples and families I will often put out three plastic bowls and let them represent areas within the family system that need addressing. The first bowl represents the minor offenses, in other words, the things we need to let go of. The second bowl represents the things we need to compromise and work through to a healthier place for all parties. The third represents nonnegotiables. These are rules or boundaries that keep everyone safe. Boundaries will vary within each unique situation but there are times when separation for safety, counseling and healthy restoration are necessary.

The non-negotiable boundaries that include situations where someone is being abused, neglected, a threat of harm, or is no longer safe within his/her environment, require a physical separation for as long as the offender remains a threat to safety. In situations involving substance abuse/addiction, situations that put the family financially at risk, or cause serious emotional distress, the variance of boundaries is not as cut and dry. They vary from areas that clearly fall within the non-negotiable to ones that lend themselves to working through the underlying hurt to a place of possible healing, reunion and restoration. Here is where wisdom must lead.  Meeting with a counselor or pastor can help you navigate so you’re neither abandoning your spouse in a time of great need nor enabling their behavior.

Forgiveness is given, but boundaries must be set.  Consider what it looks like for trust to be rebuilt and at what level of restoration is healthy for all involved. Is the one who has offended showing evidence of humility, taking responsibility for their offense? Repented? Willing, committed and following through with counseling and/or treatment for their own healing? Meeting with a pastor or mentor regularly? Being honest and meeting with an accountability group or partner? Taking initiative or agreeing to the removal of opportunities to repeat the offense? Making a plan of action together? Respecting other boundaries you have set?   Trust can begin to be restored at a gradual level when there is a pattern of progression and commitment to healing and change.

In his book, The Art of Forgiving, Smeades states, “If we keep forgiving, judgment and good sense in their right places, we can let the miracle of forgiving do its own proper work of healing and leave the restoration of the offender to other practical considerations.”

 

 

SONG OF THE WEEK: How Wonderful

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

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SONG OF THE WEEK:  How Wonderful – Leeland

“How wonderful, how lovely is Your name
You captivate our hearts, You save us by Your grace
.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.30.19 AMSometimes, we just need to come to grips with the fact that words can never encapsulate the majesty and splendor of our amazing God. That truth is where songs like this take on a truly glorious and beautiful meaning.

Our God is beautiful, He’s amazing, glorious, and a great host of other grandiose descriptions. At the end of the day, there’s little more that we can say. He’s wonderful, kind, and gracious to us.

Ephesians 1:7-8 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

God has lavished His rich grace upon us. Grace undeserved and freely given. When Paul states that God has LAVISHED us, it means that God has given in “extreme and outrageous fashion”. He has given us far more than we could ever seek or ask!

Praise be to His beautiful name for His wonderful salvation!

Exodus 15:11
“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

Psalm 104:1 “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty!”

Psalm 145:5 “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.”

Psalm 8:9 “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

Sometimes all we can say is “How great is the name of our Lord!”

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SONG OF THE WEEK: The Way

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

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SONG OF THE WEEK: The Way (New Horizons) – Pat Barrett

If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve still got this song stuck in your head from Sunday! We declared this anthem together while we watched several of our brothers and sisters get baptized and go public with their declaration of having received new life in Christ!

I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life
I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life

It’s repetitive, but this words are taken right out of Scripture in John 14:6.Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.25.15 AM“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”

There’s something unique and powerful when we affirm the decision to follow Jesus and to live believing what He has said. There is no other way, no other truth, and no other life apart from Him. The words of the bridge should also be a deep encouragement, and a defiant statement to the schemes that the devil can use to pry us away from our Lord.

And it’s a new horizon and I’m set on You
And You meet me here today with mercies that are new
All my fears and doubts, they can all come too

Because they can’t stay long when I’m here with You

We’re told in Lamentations:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

No matter what comes with the horizon, we can rest in confidence that God will be there as well, and that He will continue to show us His mercy! Because of that, we can live in defiance of our fears and doubts, knowing that our great and awesome God will conquer them! Praise be to God for the new life He has given to us!

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Unleash Update

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church Lead Pastor

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A year ago, we launched UNLEASH, which is an initiative to generate $2 million over and above our operating budget to reach our Neighbors, the Nations, and the Next Generation.

  • Our Neighbors—generate up-front money for capital expenditures for a campus ($350,000)
  • The Nations—translate the Bible for the SOLI people of Pearl Island ($250,000)
  • The Next Generation—get rid of our mortgage debt so that we can invest in all of our ministries (especially our next generation ministries) and also help with the ongoing operating costs of our future campuses ($1,400,000)

To date we gave generated $1,781,795 which is 89% of our goal!

We also want to let you know that even though we have not yet achieved our $2 million goal, WE HAVE COMPLETELY PAID OFF THE MORTGAGE. 

How did we do that when we have only reached 89% of our UNLEASH goal?

  • We had a number of contributions come in that were earmarked for debt reduction before we officially launched the UNLEASH campaign. So, when we publicly launched the UNLEASH campaign, our debt was closer to $1.2 million instead of $1.4 million.

Now what?

  1. Keep praying for UNLEASH & for Cuyahoga Valley Church leadership as we are getting ready for a new year of ministry.
  2. We still want to hit our goal of $2 million—and even exceed it—so we want you to fulfill your pledge to UNLEASH.
    • We still have $218,205 left to hit our goal.
    • The remaining dollars will still go towards our 3 UNLEASH initiatives
    • So even though the mortgage is gone, we can still use additional resources for investing in our ministries and our future campuses.
  3. If you did not pledge support to the UNLEASH campaign or have not given to it, you still can! In fact, we are praying to exceed our $2 million goal because every dollar given to UNLEASH supports reaching more people for Christ.  We have UNLEASH magazines in the foyer if you do not have one and you’d like to know more about the campaign.

Thank you for all your support of UNLEASH and Cuyahoga Valley Church.  You are helping to change people’s lives for eternity!

 

 

How the Holy Spirit Helps Us

Faith That Works (Part 3)

by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church Founding Pastor

This past weekend, several people asked me questions about the nature of faith and works. I was asked, “If we are saved by faith and not by works, then why did you talk so much about our need to do good works?”

We have been exploring the relationship between our faith and our works. What follow is the 3rd part of our 3 part series of blog posts to answer the question,  “Is my profession of faith real?”

How do we do good deeds? What’s gospel-based approach to do-gooding?

A biblical approach to do-gooding…

  1. Do I see myself as a Beloved Child?
    You are loved unconditionally by God. Knowing that you are loved unconditionally by Christ changes everything. God didn’t have to love you, help you, save you, and serve you. But He did all that (and more) because of His great love for you. Knowing you are Beloved by God turns a hard heart into a soft heart. That’s when works of love start flowing in a supernatural way. You didn’t earn God’s love. So, why would you require anyone else to earn love from you? Because we are objects of love we become subjects who love. God’s love for us produces God’s love from us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Thank God that you are a Beloved Child.

  2. Am I trusting daily in the gospel of grace?
    Preach the gospel to yourself every day. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Jesus paid it all when He died on the cross in your place for your sins. All accounts have been settled between you and God. You are forever freed from the need to pay God back. You can’t do enough good works to be saved. You don’t have to do good works to be saved. Christ has done a good work – the Best Work – for you. You are fully and freely forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ. Now, motivated by His Good Work, we do good works for others. Jesus has already given you the greatest thing you’ll ever need. Therefore, you don’t need others to give to you; you can give to them! Your “Do” is fueled by His “Done.” Your good works are fueled His Good Work! Because of the gospel, you don’t have to do good works; you’ll want to do good works. Trust again in the gospel of grace.

  3. Am I reading my Bible to see God’s “to dos”?
    This passage isn’t demanding that we drive ourselves to do more and try harder. God is calling is to work out what He’s worked in. Read your Bible to see God’s “to dos.”
  4. Am I asking God, “What good works do You want me to do today?”

  5. Will I turn my intentions into actions?
    “When we live out the ways of the gospel it opens doors for the words of the gospel,” says Christian leader Lance Ford. We seek to do love-motivated, gospel-driven, Word-directed, prayer-saturated, Spirit-empowered good works.

So, what does God want us to do today? He wants us to examine ourselves.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5a

Look at your life and ask, “Am I a real Christian?” Don’t ask, “Did I pray the prayer or check a box?” Did the Son of God leave heaven and die on a cross so you could check a box? Ask, “Is the fruit of my life proof that the root of my life is real?”

Dead wood illustration. If your life looks like this, you aren’t saved no matter what you say.

At the final judgment, the person’s works give evidence of true saving faith. See note on Galatians 2:16.

We will not be saved by a cheap grace through a false faith for no good works. We can only be saved by an extravagant grace through a true faith for good works.

Faith that works… works.

Is my profession of faith real?

For some of you it’s not working. No one around you would ever think you are saved. If your religion hasn’t changed your life, you ought to change your religion. You’ve got to swap pseudo faith for saving faith. You’ve got to trade in your fake faith for true faith- a faith that changes everything.

Think of a road with two ditches. The devil doesn’t care which side of the road he wrecks your car on.

On the one side is the ditch for those who think they can work their way to heaven – that God is somehow making a list, checking it twice, like Santa Claus. And when we die, He is going to see if our good works outweigh our bad works. Some are trying to be justified by works. It won’t work.

The other ditch is just as dangerous. Some say, “We’re saved by faith. Well, I believe. Jesus died for my sins and rose again? I believe.” But it’s an intellectual, casual, nominal belief that doesn’t change anything in their lives. They never bow the knee to Jesus. They never really come to know Christ personally. They simply have a “say so” salvation. But they don’t have a “show so” salvation.

Over here are those who are trying to work their way to heaven. They will never do it. Over here are those who never really have received Jesus Christ as Lord.

Do you have a “say so” faith or a “show so” faith? It matters. A lot. See, there will be a day of judgment. For all of us. And “The dead are judged according to their works,” says Revelation 20:12. Who are the sheep and who are the goats? Who are the real deal and who are the pretenders? Our good works answer those questions.

SONG OF THE WEEK: Great is Your Faithfulness

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

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“Great is Your faithfulness, Your faithfulness
Through the years you’ve always been there.
Great is Your love for us, Your love for us.
Through the years you’ll always be there.”

Written by Martin Smith of the Group “Delirious?” this song is connected to several passages that address a key element of God’s character: His unending faithfulness! This is something that should bring hope to the hearts of all believers.

Consider the words of Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

There is peace in knowing that the love and mercy God has shown to us will never fade away! It never ends! Not only that, it never grows stale. God’s love cannot grow tiresome or boring, it is by its very nature refreshing and life-giving. What a joy it is to know that God will never turn away from loving us!

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In spite of all of this, life is difficult. We can often lose sight of God’s faithfulness and his love. Perhaps for this very reason the author of Hebrews penned an encouragement: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (10:23) No matter what comes our way, no matter what beats us down, God’s promises will be fulfilled! We can have hope through the deepest of sorrows and the most intense of pain that God will be faithful.

It’s important to remember that in the light of God’s faithfulness, we are unfaithful. We don’t keep our promises. Here on earth we know what comes when we are unfaithful. Divorces, broken families and friendships, termination of employment, breaking of contracts. When we are not faithful, there is rejection and separation. We understand when people reject us for our unfaithfulness because we’ve done to same to others in their unfaithfulness. Praise be to God that this is not how He operates!

Romans 3:3-4 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.

This passage is a testament to the fact that God is a covenant-keeping God! Even when we reject Him, He has determined in His character that He will never break His promises to us. This defies human logic because it is against our very natural mindset that we must get what we deserve. God’s mercy instead holds back what we do deserve (unfaithfulness) and His grace gives us that which we have not earned (faithfulness).

2 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.

You might have often heard it said that You cannot put God in a box. This statement exists to remind us that we cannot limit what God will do. The only one who can limit God is God Himself! Paul’s reminder to Timothy in the passage above is that God has committed Himself to being faithful no matter what comes. He will not deny himself by compromising His promises to us. Praise be to God that He does not love us based on our own faithfulness! If that was not the case, I’m confident we would all have escaped His love long ago.

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