SONG OF THE WEEK: So Will I (100 Billion X) – Hillsong United
“God of creation; there at the start before the beginning of time. With no point of reference You spoke to the dark and fleshed out the wonder of light.”
This song off Hillsong’s 2017 Wonder is truly a beautiful one. While being jam-packed with lyrics, they are all phrased so tastefully and help point us to the divinely elegant nature of God’s work in Creation and in us.
From start to finish, So Will I touches on so many important parts of the Gospel. Consider the words above. In Genesis we see the story of how God created the world. He did this without a handbook, guide, or even an example. He created time and light out of nothing. This verse goes on to say how “in the vapor of God’s breath” Creation is made. This refers to how Genesis tells us that God created by breathing out. His very words and breath brought all things into existence. “I can see Your heart in everything you’ve made” refers us to how God has created to demonstrate to us who He is. To show us His heart! It’s referred to later in the song “If it all reveals Your nature so will I. I can see Your heart in everything You say. Every painted sky a canvas of Your grace” God’s creation screams out His character and goodness! This is why in Romans 1 Paul condemns unbelievers saying that they are “without excuse” because God can be seen simply by His handiwork! God’s wonderful Creation is a testimony of who He is.
Recognizing that God has created all things for His glory is great. But if we fail to join in on that, we’ve missed the boat. In Luke 19 Jesus tells the Pharisees that if others don’t declare his praises than the very rocks will shout them out! We must join in with the song of Creation! The Bridge of the song builds us to that emotional response! We must sing out His praises, because what He deserves can never be reached! Our praises will always “fall shy” of the mark, perhaps that is why we’ll spend all of eternity declaring them!
After this joyous declaration of our devotion in response to God’s worthiness, the song calls us to the imagery of the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice there. The words of the song speak for themselves here: “God of salvation, You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride. On a hill You created the light of the world abandoned in darkness to die.” God has never given up on us, despite our provision of many reasons why He should. To reach us with His salvation, he came and died on a hill that He made. On a cross made of wood that He designed. Shoved into the dirt that He spoke into existence. Feeling the breeze that He had invented, He suffered, bled and died in our place.
What a breathtaking communication of the Gospel, the Savior’s love for us, and the beautiful purpose of His creation. The song ends with a reminder that our God is one who never abandons us. Who “never leaves the one behind.” Each person on earth has intrinsic value because God has created them to display His character, and saw fit to send His Son that through His sacrifice they might be redeemed. May we view people as God views them, and call them to repentance that they might live in Jesus’ saving grace.
SONG OF THE WEEK: Tremble – Mosaic MSC
“Your name is a Light that the shadows can’t deny.”
The name of our Lord is a powerful one. We’re told in Scripture that demons tremble at His name and the darkness flees at His presence. There is great evil in this world that wants to destroy and corrupt all that is lovely. When we consider these things and see them in the world around us, it can be overwhelming. We grow fearful, anxious and insecure. But Jesus’ name is stronger than the darkness. It casts out darkness. This song is an anthem to the power of Jesus name, we love to declare the goodness of our Savior’s might!
Check out some words from Mosaic MSC about the song:
Luke 1:78-79 tells us: “God’s mercy will shine on those living in darkness and…guide our feet to the path of peace.” We are reminded that even in our deepest moments of sorrow, God’s mercy is strong enough to permeate the darkness and guide us into peace. When you feel confronted with darkness inside of you, remember that God’s light is bright and strong enough to illuminate every corner of the night.
Let us take heart in knowing that the God we serve is incomparable and unconquerable. His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can neither comprehend it or overcome it. May we rest in His perfect saving grace.
In combination with my sermon this Sunday on Luke 4:31-44, here is a list of several key resources that we at Cuyahoga Valley Church use or recommend for those who want to dig a little deeper into demonology. Just remember… we have the authority and power of Christ on our side!
Cuyahoga Valley Church recommended resources:
- Position–Christians and Demon Possession
- Prayers-Spiritual-Warfare from Founding Pastor Rick Duncan
- Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology Chapters 19 & 20.
SONG OF THE WEEK: Lay it all down, Will Reagan and United Pursuit
“Bring your worry, grief and pain. Every cause you have for shame.
When your cares have buried you and there’s nothing left to do.
Carried on but your heart was tired, feared the worst and felt the fire.
We’ve given up on better days, there are memories we can’t erase.
We’ve come to fear what we can’t explain, there’s nothing here that can ease the pain.
Filled with all those anxious thoughts all your doubts became your god.
Lay it all down, at the feet of Jesus.”
What a great lyric for us to turn to when we are weary. There are countless days when we are overwhelmed by the weight of the world. There are times when the burdens that we carry seem too much for us to carry. Perhaps the reason for that is that they are indeed too great for us to carry. This is
why Jesus invites us to find rest in Him. In Matthew 11, Jesus invites his followers to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
If you listen to this song again through the link below, you’ll quickly realize that the majority of this song is a repetition of the last few words above: “lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.” One of the greatest temptations we experience in our lives is the temptation to attempt to handle everything on our own. This is the pride of our hearts, attempting to convince us that we are capable and strong. Yet the Gospel says that we are weak and entirely dependent on Jesus. This is a truth that we must be constantly
reminded of and laying our burdens before the Lord is a practice that we must constantly do.
So may we be encouraged. The world is too heavy for our shoulders to carry, for our shoulders weren’t
created for that purpose, but our Lord holds the span of the universe in the palm of His hand. He is
willing and able to carry our burdens, so may we find rest in Him.
“So lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.”
Did you pastors really cancel church (6:30PM service) for a football game?! Seriously!?
Yes – yes we did. And we’re proud of it!! Let me explain…
I’m an introvert. That may seem odd to many of you because you often see me on stage preaching, leading youth events, etc.. But, I have all of those things prepared. Talking with people on the spot is not my greatest skill. I prefer to read books, hang out with my family, and keep only a few close friends. Pastor Chad, on the other hand, is an extrovert. It seems like every time we are together in a meeting or catch each other in the hall, he has a story about someone that he is connecting with in his community. He is good with people face-to-face, easy to talk to, and seems to have no fear striking up a conversation. Not me!
You can ask my neighbor Darren – he’ll tell you how awkward I am.
This makes it hard for me to be a LifeHouse. What we mean at CVC when we talk about being a LifeHouse is being intentional to invite people to new life in Christ in our neighborhood by getting to know them, serving them, and caring about them in order that we might have the opportunity to share the good news with them. Pastor Rick has often said, “we do good works to create good will so that we can share the good news.”
As an introvert, I need a little help getting to know my neighbors. I look for good excuses to talk with them – fishing, lawn care, cluttered garage problems. One of the reasons that I love winter is because snow gives me an easy way to love my neighbors. I love toting my snow blower around in the back of my truck looking for the poor soul who is out shoveling. Just the other day I got to meet Todd – a neighbor at the top of my street – because his snow blower had broken down. I need excuses to engage my neighbors because I stink at doing it naturally.
- Need a hand with that project, Ralph? I’m your man!
- Can we watch your kids so you two can go on a date? Valenti’s to the rescue!
- Car got stuck in the snow? Give me a second, and I’ll hook up my tow rope!
Maybe you’re like Pastor Chad and connecting with people comes naturally to you. If so – AWESOME!
But maybe you’re like me and you have to think REALLY hard about ways to be a LifeHouse.
Enter Superbowl. (cue epic music)
The Superbowl is a super easy way to get to know some neighbors.
Let me explain the benefits.
- Inviting people over for the Superbowl is easy. If you are really shy, make a flyer and stick it in every door on your street!
- Watching the game provides an interesting conversation dynamic. Holding a conversation with people you don’t know really well can be daunting. But if the game is on, the onus is not on you to hold a 3 hour conversation! You watch, eat, chat, watch some more, chat, eat some more…you get the point.
- If you have kids, this is a great opportunity for them to get to know one another.
- I don’t know about you, but my appetizer game is really strong. It’s a spiritual gift. Having people in your home gives you the opportunity to show hospitality! Can’t cook? Order Pizza!
- By the end of the party, you’ll know names and faces and probably some stories. NOW you have some common ground to have conversations in the yard and on the sidewalk. Now you have context to invite them over again or invite their kids over to play!
But I don’t like football, Pastor Joe. Good thing this whole plan has nothing to do with football! It has everything to do with taking advantage of a silly game so that you can get to know your neighbors. Yeah – take that NFL – we’re using you for Kingdom work *evil laugh* And when you get to know your neighbors you can begin to build relationships with them. And when you build relationships with them you can share Jesus with them. See how this all works?
Football Schmootball – that’s what I say! So, fire up that phone, or jump on Facebook messenger, or print out some flyers and get some people invited to this shindig at your house! It sounds like its going to be a blast!
SONG OF THE WEEK: Jesus Paid It All – Elvina Hall
“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
Elvina Hall wrote the first few words of this classic hymn of the faith on a part of her hymnal while her pastor prayed. She later connected with the church organist and the two of them continued to complete one of the greatest and most popular hymns.
This song’s lyrics are so rich, and they walk us through the very core of the Gospel. That Jesus stood in our place and bore all of our sin and shame on the cross. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words about Christ centuries before He would walk the Earth: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
This simple truth must always serve as a reminder to us. Paul sought to remind the believers at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that they were “bought with a price”. We owe everything to our Jesus who gave His everything for us on a hill called Golgotha.
It’s a new year and although we know that 2019 will bring us all new joys and new challenges, I hope your new year is off to an encouraging start.
I thought of our church today as I read a passage in our Bible reading plan that we are all familiar with:
Acts 2:42–47 –  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)
As followers of Christ, these well-known verses typically encourage us, convict us and motivate us. What a great picture the Lord has given us of His church from His Word. A few observations I want to highlight and remind us of:
- The church was devoted to the teaching of God’s Word. I hope you have already started this year strong in your personal time with the Lord (I strongly encourage you to follow along in our CVC plan -it’s timely that we are in Acts this week!) Bible Reading Plan
- The church was devoted to fellowship and being together. I hope your commitment to growing together in a LifeGroup has been refreshed, as well as just general fellowship with other believers – hang outs, conversations, coffee, meals, etc…
- The church was devoted to prayer (we saw this as well in Acts 1:14a – All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…(ESV). I hope your prayer life continues to deepen and grow!
- I hope you plan on reading/re-reading our recommend book for this quarter – “Praying the Bible” by Donald Whitney. It’s a great resource to help us transform our prayer lives by learning to better pray God’s Word.. Here are a couple excerpts from Whitney to help you know the vibe of his book:
- “And when prayer is boring, we don’t feel like praying. And when we don’t feel like praying, it’s hard to make ourselves pray. Even five or six minutes of prayer can feel like an eternity. Our mind wanders half the time. We’ll suddenly come to ourselves and think, “Now where was I? I haven’t been thinking of God for the last several minutes.” And we’ll return to that mental script we’ve repeated countless times. But almost immediately our minds begin to wander again because we’ve said the same old things about the same old things so many times.”
- “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.”
- If you are a LG leader or serve here at CVC, I hope you have marked your calendars already and prioritized February 23-March 1. Our gifted brother Daniel Henderson will be in to help our team and church grow in prayer which will be followed by Seek Week.
- I also am going to invite you and challenge our body to consider fasting on Thursdays this year. More on that to come!
- The church saw a great multiplication of disciples. Please know that at the root of all our efforts this year, and the years to come, is the hope and prayer that we will lead our church to be disciple-making disciples. This glorifies Jesus. This is obedience to Jesus. New life in Christ means living with a growing obsession to see more and more people come to know Jesus, and to build Christ’s kingdom. So I hope you are not only praying and planning on how you will see fruit through your direct discipleship, but also praying and planning for at least one person who will come to the Lord through their direct discipleship and so on.
I am praying for us to see an exceptionally faithful and fruitful year in 2019. It’s a safe prediction to anticipate more of these points to emerge in the weeks and months to come 🙂
I am regularly stunned that I get the joy of pastoring you, and serving Jesus with you. I often thank the Lord for the church family that we have. It’s a new year, so let’s attack it with a new zeal and hopefulness as we invite people to new life in Christ!
SONG OF THE WEEK: The Lord Our God – Kristian Stanfill
“The Lord our God is ever faithful, never changing through the ages. From this darkness you will lead us. And forever we will sing, You’re the Lord our God!”
Promise-maker, promise-keeper. You finish what You begin. Our provision through the desert, You see us through till the end.
It’s important for us to remember that God ALWAYS keeps His Word. You may have heard the statement before that “you can’t out God in a box”. This is true, but only to an extent! This statement used to be stated to remind us that God can work in ways beyond that which we anticipate or believe to be possible. However, God CAN put Himself in a box, and He does often. He has told us that we can trust Him because He is working for our good and for His glory in Romans 8. He has told us that he will never change in James chapter 1! Because God tells us that He will never lie, we know that we can trust Him to always be who He says He is! He will never fail us or become something or someone different! We know that no matter what comes, He remains faithful.
This is something that we must be reminded of, because frankly it is easy for us to forget. The trials and tribulations of this life cause our faith to waver. However, I’m confident God foresaw the weakness of our trust in Him, and chose to remind us repeatedly that we can trust Him in His Word. Consider a few treasured reminders of His unchanging nature.
- Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Malachi 3:6 – “For I the Lord do not change…”
- James 1:17 – “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights of whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
- Numbers 23:19 – “God is not man that He should lie, or a son of man that He should change His mind… Has he spoken, and will He not fulfill it?”
- Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
- Hebrews 16:8 – “…It is impossible for God to lie… have strong encouragement by holding fast to the hope set before us.”
There are many other passages that can remind us of this blessed truth! Why is it important to remember God’s faithfulness? The story in Joshua 9 is a sad example of what happens when we walk by our sight instead… So far through the book of Joshua, we’ve seen the Lord lead Joshua and the Israelites throughout the Promised Land, and do a serious number on its inhabitants. Joshua was a heavily successful leader, and the Israelites were hated. Many tribes and people groups joined together and attacked Israel, to no avail.
Another people group called the Gibeonites did something far more devious. They had heard about Israel and their God, and did not expect to beat them in battle. So they dressed themselves poorly and sent some messengers to Joshua, pretending to be from a land far away desiring to pay their respect to Joshua and Israel (when in reality they lived right next door! They went to Joshua and asked him for a peace treaty. Here is where the nation’s pride got the better of them.
Joshua 9:14,15 reads “the men examined some of their provisions, but they failed to ask the Lord’s advice. Joshua made a peace treaty with them and agreed to let them live.”
Joshua failed to seek the Lord’s wisdom in this key moment! Throughout the story of Joshua so far, He is quick to ask the Lord for guidance, but in this small thing Joshua thought He could do it on His own. This sin led to consequences from the nation for generations to come.
This story is a solemn reminder of why we must faithfully seek the Lord’s wisdom. Perhaps that’s why the lyrics of the bridge are so important for us to sing “We won’t move with You. We won’t move without You. You’re the light of all, and all that we need.” May we walk in the Lord’s guidance, and trust Him to reveal His way for us, to avoid the traps of our sinful pride that so easily ensnare.
“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.”
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!