Happy Wednesday, FCC! Thank you all for your prayers for my surgery. I am recovering well at home and looking forward to being back to normal responsibilities next week. I trust you are well, and you are preparing for a nice big snow dump tomorrow! I love a good snow dump!
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
It has been said that most people are concerned that others think too little of them, but the apostle Paul was very concerned that people would think too much of him. Paul, the author of the letter to the Romans, was transformed by grace. And in being transformed by grace, his whole worldview was reshaped. Grace does that. An encounter with grace changes you. Fundamentally, grace creates a real and true humility. Grace changes you from being a person concerned with people thinking too little of us, to people concerned with a sober assessment of ourselves. Grace leads us to be concerned that people might think too highly of us. This concern begins in our own hearts, leading us not to think too highly of ourselves.
How does God's grace make this transformation in our hearts? It comes through sober judgment of our lives in relationship to God and others. As we reflect on God's love for us, we take into our hearts two very important truths. The first is that we are loved far more deeply, securely, and steadfastly than we can fully comprehend. The other is that we are far more flawed and sinful than we fully realize. These two truths taken together transform our hearts.
Knowing both the steadfast and undeserved love of God—feeling and believing it, means we become less concerned that people think highly of us. God, the greatest and most glorious being in all existence, loves us. And this love is not based in what we do. This love is based squarely in the fact that God loves us because he loves us, not because of what we do. It is a gracious love. We get this love from God, because Jesus deserves it, and it is directed toward us, even though we are so very flawed and sinful.
Let the twin truths of grace give you a sober judgement of yourself, and may you live far more concerned that people think too highly of you rather than think too little of you.
As we continue in our series on Just Like Me, Pastor Steve Holsteen will be preaching from Romans 12.3-10 this Sunday. He will focus on v. 10, where Paul instructs us as objects of grace to outdo one another in showing honor to one another. So much of our competition in life is to win a contest to receive honor. The gospel of God's grace in Jesus, though, turns this upside down. The contest is not to win to receive honor, it's to win by showing honor to others.
Along with the Just Like Me series, we are asking that everyone read “The Art of Neighboring” during the first quarter of the year. We have copies for purchase in our café area, or you can order your own following the link above.
With the new year, we have a few FCC Staff updates that we’re excited to share with you!
Thank you, FCC, for your generosity, which supports making these changes!
Through January 28, we’ll be praying as a church for our neighbors as part of a call to prayer by one of our partners, Converge, called 21 Days of Prayer. We ask that you pray one time a day for your neighbors and for your missional community to love and serve your neighborhood. If you don't have a missional community established yet, pray that God would work to do that. Pray that you would be empowered by God to serve and love your neighbors. Pray that God would prepare your family to serve this spring, summer, and fall, as the weather warms up. Pray for conversions and God to work through and in us to renew our neighborhoods and the St Croix Valley. If you are able, we also ask that you would fast from a meal or for a whole day a couple times during this 21 days. You can learn more about fasting in the article linked here by Donald Whitney, "The Gospel and the Discipline of Fasting."
About Converge: Converge Great Lakes is a district office of Converge Worldwide, which is a network of nearly 1300 churches throughout the US. Converge seeks to help start and strengthen churches nationally and globally.
Please mark your calendars for the annual meeting, planned for Sunday, Jan. 28. This meeting is open to everyone! This is a time when we get together as a family of families to enjoy a meal together—we’ll have barbecue and all the fixings from Famous Dave’s for dinner. The evening will include a financial report, affirmation of new members, affirmation of elders, vision casting into 2018 and prayer! Watch for online registration coming soon!