This past Sunday, we began our study in the book of Zechariah. His ministry was complimentary to the ministry of Haggai in many ways. Where Haggai was blunt and very straightforward, Zechariah was more encouraging and uplifting.
While Haggai forced the returning remnant to focus on the immediate task at hand, Zechariah encouraged the people to lift their eyes beyond what they were working on on to what God would do far in the future.
And though Haggai was old, Zechariah was “a young man”—somewhere between a young boy and a teenager.
But Zechariah did not let his youthfulness get in the way of his usefulness for the Lord. He boldly proclaimed the word of the Lord to a people who needed to remember that the Lord remembers. Watch our study of Zechariah 1 as we got to know this young prophet in Jerusalem.
In his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Haggai was a prophet to the people of Israel during a time when they were anything but steadfast immovable and abounding in the work of the Lord. In fact, they thought their labor was in vain. So God sent Haggai with His word for His people.
The Lord wanted to flip the switch on their discouragement so they could be ready to serve. Haggai exhorted God’s people to stop making excuses, to start considering their ways, and to begin serving the Lord again.
There are lessons for us today from the small book of Haggai. Yes, the work done for the Lord is going to be difficult, but it is never in vain. God is for you. He’s never going to leave you He is never going to forsake you—no matter what!
Watch our study of the book of Haggai and be encouraged—God is with you!
Have you ever avoided something important and even looked for ways to escape the responsibility of addressing it—only for that very thing to be brought before you though a message on the radio or in church? It’s as if God wrote that message just for you and what you’re going through.
Depending on your relationship with the Lord, a message from Him can bring comfort or cause panic. For King Belshazzar, the message from the Lord written on the wall of his palace left him shaken. But even after Daniel decoded the meaning of the message, Belshazzar avoided accepting the truth.
Daniel 5 is more than a cautionary tale of a wayward king. It’s history revealed and prophecy fulfilled—and a reminder of the lengths that the Lord goes to in order to deliver His message. The question for us is: will we pay attention?
Watch our study of Daniel 5 as we consider the message for King Belshazzar then and the message for us today.
God can reach the hardest heart and the most stubborn sinner. King Nebuchadnezzar was a bit of both. Since the beginning of our study in the book of Daniel, we’ve observed that Nebuchadnezzar struggled with the reality of the One true God.
But that changed in Daniel 4. In this chapter, we read Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony of the breaking that needed to occur in his heart before he finally bowed to the true King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Watch our study of Daniel 4 as we considered Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony and the challenge to be a Daniel—to have a lifetime of ministry in proximity to people who don't love God, who wrestle with God, and who rage against His word WITHOUT burning any bridges or compromising convictions.
In his first letter, the Apostle Peter encouraged believers to stand strong, even when faith is tested by all kinds of fiery trials. For when tested by fire, faith is found to be genuine.
This is a New Testament spiritual principle that’s illustrated by the Old Testament physical picture we find in Daniel 3. In this chapter, we see the faith of three young men tested quite literally by a fiery trial. And as is often the case, this fiery trial leads to more opportunities to glorify God.
This past Sunday, we observed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in a fiery trial—and how they stood out as they stood up for their faith.
When King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, he demanded an interpretation. And when Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get what we wanted…bad things happened.
Daniel and his friends didn’t know the interpretation right away, but they knew the God in heaven who reveals mysteries. They prayed to the Lord—and He answered them.
They knew the God of heaven rules and reigns forever. And unlike King Nebuchadnezzar—whose reign would come to a end—the Lord will establish His kingdom that will never end.
Watch our study of Daniel 2 as we considered the God in heaven who reveals mysteries and whose kingdom will have no end.
Daniel was in his teens when he was taken from his home in Jerusalem and indoctrinated into the most wicked, most perverse, and most pagan society that the world had ever seen up to that point—Babylon.
And yet, somehow Daniel lived a majority of his life in Babylon without becoming influenced by Babylon. In the midst of all of the perverse wickedness, intentional indoctrination, and deadly social contagion, Daniel survived without compromising any of his convictions.
In our own age of cultural indoctrination, we can learn from Daniel’s experience as we purpose in our own hearts not to defile ourselves. Watch our first study in the book of Daniel as we consider what it means to be in the world, but not of the world.
On Resurrection Sunday, we rejoice because we know that Jesus is victorious over sin and death. Not only that, but He has promised to never leave us or forsake us! On this Resurrection Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ victory by looking at Luke 24 and considered the ways He showed us that He would always with us.
In Romans 16, Pastor Paul concludes his letter to the Roman church with some of his co-laborers in Christ in mind.
In Psalm 16, David remarks about co-laborers like these when he writes, “As for the saints who are on the earth ‘They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.’” (Psalm 16:3).
In our 50th and final study in Romans, we reviewed the names of these individuals that Paul called out and appreciated the qualities they demonstrated as they served the Lord. Watch our study of Romans 16 as we consider ‘the excellent ones.’
God has given us two important tools to minister to one another—the word and prayer. There is no more powerful combination for the lives of the ones we love than the ministry of the word and prayer. The Apostle Paul encourages us to wield them wisely as he demonstrates their proper use in Romans 15. Watch our study as we learned what it looks like to serve one another with the word of God and prayer.
As a believer, your love may be tested more by Christians who disagree with you than by unbelievers who persecute you. So what should you do when your brother or sister in the Lord disagrees with you on non-essentials issues?
Paul addresses this in Romans 14. One could say that this chapter is an equal opportunity offender—if you listen close, you will find yourself somewhere in this chapter. This portion of scripture has answers to a lot of the questions that we ask about others, but the answers may not be what we would expect.
Watch our study of Romans 14 as we consider what it looks like to limit our liberties in love.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Our motivation for doing good works isn’t to impress others, gain their admiration, or give us more attention. Our hope is that people would see our good deeds and glorify God.
The good works we do and the obedient behavior we aspire to is not an effort to score points with God or to win friends and influence people. Our participation in good works is a part of what God uses to intrigue the watching world—so that they would wonder why we are the way that we are and ultimately see the Lord.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul points to many opportunities we have as followers of Jesus to do good works that would draw others to Him. Watch our study of Romans 8:8-14 as we consider how our good deeds can be a segue for others to see the Lord and glorify Him.
One of the benefits of going through the Bible verse by verse is for us to understand the context of each passage. This helps us avoid the mistake of taking a section of Scripture out of context and make it a pretext for something that God never intended to say.
Romans 13 is a great example of why context is important. This past Sunday, we began our study of the first seven verses of this chapter by carefully considering what the Apostle Paul had written just before and just after these verses so we can accurately understand the text.
Watch our study in Romans 13:1-7 as we considered this passage in context to better understand the specific roles and responsibilities the family, the church, and the government have in a healthy society.
Though Romans 12:9-21 is only thirteen verses, it contains approximately thirty practical ways that we can practice being the kind of friend that Jesus has been to us.
At the heart of this passage is Jesus. It’s only through His demonstration of love to us that we are able to learn how to love others, even when we feel we have every right and reason to hate. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
With the love of Christ, we can bless our enemies and love those who treat us poorly. In this second portion of Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to love our enemies with the courage available to us in Christ and reminds us of our purpose to lead our enemies to Jesus.
Watch our study of Romans 12:15-21 and learn how we can overcome evil with good through the love of Jesus.
Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” This past Sunday, we spent our time in God’s word studying this one verse—and what a verse it is!
The command to bless our persecutors is counterintuitive, and yet this is how Christianity has made the most genuine impact in the world. The practice of loving when you feel like you have every right and reason to retaliate can only be accomplished with the same love that Jesus has for us and demonstrated to us.
But the ability to bless instead of curse does not come naturally. It takes time to develop and learn at the feet of Jesus as we pay attention to how He loves us so that we can live and love this way for others.
Watch our study of Romans 12:14 and learn what it looks like to be a good friend to those to treat you like an enemy.
Romans 12:9-21 contains approximately 30 exhortations and applications—practical ways we can practice being the kind of friend to others that Jesus has been to us.
This past Sunday, we looked at just 5 verses of that portion of the text and contemplated the depth of love that Christ’s expresses in His friendship with us. He has demonstrated His love for us by laying down His life for us—and we are encouraged to do the same for our brothers and sisters.
Watch our study of Romans 12:9-13 as we learned what a good friend we have in Jesus, then considered how we can be that kind of a friend to those around us.
When we cooperate with God’s work that He began in us, He leads us toward true maturity. As this begins and continues, something happens within us—we begin to become a bit uncomfortable with always receiving the good things God gives us.
As we worship Him and are blessed by Him, our hearts continue to fill up until we find ourselves responding to God’s love by loving those around us with the very love that He has given us.
This is all part of His plan to mature and strengthen us, and it’s what we considered as we continued our study in Romans 12:3-8. Watch our study from Sunday as we studied what it means to love those around us with the gifts that God has given us.
Many letters written by the Apostle Paul follow a similar trajectory. He opens with doctrine (explaining who we are in Jesus) and ends with application (defining how we are to live in light of our identity in Jesus).
In most letters, you can almost draw a line in the middle at the transition from doctrine to application. Paul follows a similar pattern in Romans, but apparently he had a little more doctrine than application in Romans. The transition from doctrine to application isn’t exactly in the middle—but that doesn’t make the application any less intense.
This past Sunday, we considered just the first two verses of Romans 12 as we transitioned from doctrine to application in the letter to the Romans. Watch our study as we ask two questions of the Lord: Who are you? What do You want me to do?
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul provides examples and evidence from scripture that demonstrate that God is not done with Israel. He has not rejected His covenant people. God still has a plan for them.
But before Paul gets into that, he makes an emphatic and enlightening statement about how we are saved: salvation is either all by your own works, or all by God’s amazing grace.
Romans 11 is full of the goodness and severity of our God. Watch our study of this chapter and marvel at the way God has extended His invitation of salvation to those outside of Israel.
On the first Sunday of every year, we review the history, vision, purpose, and practice of Refuge so that we can confidently answer these questions: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What does it look like?
We turn to the Bible to find the answers to those important questions so we can understand God’s vision for His church.
The birth story of Jesus in the Gospel of John isn’t easy to find. Unlike Matthew, there’s no list of names. Unlike Luke, there’s no heavenly host addressing shepherds. That’s because John highlighted the deity of Jesus—how Jesus is God.
So we need to rethink what a birth story would look like for God. Where did God come from? What is God’s history? What is God’s heritage?
On Christmas Eve, we considered these questions as we looked at the first chapter of the Gospel of John—where we find the birth story of Jesus, who is God. Watch and marvel at the wonder of the Infinite becoming infant, the Maker becoming man—Immanuel, God with us!
We’ve paused our study in Romans to consider the birth of our Savior and study the true story of how Jesus made His entrance into our world. Last week, we looked at the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew. This past Sunday, we looked at the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 2 may be a familiar text. But as we work and worship our way through the word from God that never changes, by the power of the Holy Spirit we will change as we preserve, ponder, and proclaim the indescribable gift of God’s Son! Watch our study of Luke 2:1-20 as we consider Jesus—the sinner’s Savior.
On Christmas Eve (4pm this Saturday), we’ll look at how the Gospel of John records Jesus’ entrance into our world. Read ahead and do some digging—the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of John might not be immediately apparent.
The Christmas season is upon us! It’s a time we choose to set aside to ponder and proclaim that “…unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
For the next few weeks, we will take time to pause and consider the coming of our Savior Jesus—reflecting on the account of His birth and the significance of the greatest gift that God has ever given.
Three of the four Gospels have detailed accounts of the birth of Jesus. This week, we considered the account recorded in Matthew 1. Next week (12/18), we will look at Luke’s account. And then on Christmas Eve, we will look at The Gospel of John. Read ahead!
God is not done with the nation of Israel. His promises to Israel are to Israel, and He will be faithful to fulfill those promises. God is still stretching out His hands to His covenant people, longing for them to come to Him.
We see that throughout Israel’s history. Even if the majority were functioning in unbelief, there was always a faithful remnant who believed.
Paul points to the prophet Elijah as one of these faithful, but even Elijah struggled at times with discouragement and frustration in his ministry. Why? Watch our study in Romans 11:1-5 as we consider the danger of relying upon feelings rather than the facts of God’s word.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends