River City Church - Smyrna, GA
Equipping the Saints Pt. 1

Equipping the Saints Pt. 1

February 7, 2021

Josh kicks off a series of messages walking through the theme of "equipping the saints for the work of ministry" from Ephesians 4. Paul explains to the church in Ephesus that God has already done and continues to do much of the work in and through us. Part of becoming "equipped" is remembering that we walk in that reality. We know that God is good; He has a plan; and He will bring righteousness and shalom. Ephesians 4:11-13; Ephesians 1. 

Josh shared two quotes 

1) Gordon McClellan -- "I think the answer is to be found in verse 17. There, we hear of the goal to come to 'know [Christ] better' (NIV). This, it seems to me, is the true purpose of the church -- not always to get it right, or to have a pristine history of always being on the right side of every issue. Rather, the purpose of the church is to be a vehicle that works continually to know and reveal Christ better. In this sense, there is no other vehicle, no other institution like it on earth. This is what allows the church the opportunity to 'complete Jesus.' By presenting to the world a model of what it looks like continually to strive to know Christ better, the church has the unique opportunity to complete the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ."

2) Henri Nouwen (from Life of the Beloved) -- "Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper."

POTS: Justice and Racial Reconciliation

POTS: Justice and Racial Reconciliation

January 31, 2021

Josh shares from his heart about our personal and collective calls to live out the ministry of reconciliation. This requires repentance, humility, listening, learning, and being comfortable with the uncomfortable. Conversations about racism and justice are not easy, but we have to be willing to step into God's heart for unity and reconciliation. We see Jesus in John 4 meeting a woman at a well despite the 800 years of racism between her people and the Jews. Jesus offers us a way to step into those uncomfortable spaces as well for the sake of the Kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 7:9; John 4:1-42. 

Josh shared several quotes today as well: 

1) J.R.R. Tolkien:  "It does no good to leave a live dragon out of your calculation if it lives in your area."

 
2) Charles Baudelaire (as quoted by Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects): "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people that he did not exist."
 
3) From the book, Black and White: "It's important to think carefully about this. What are these principalities, powers, and world rulers? What's their agenda? How do they operate? To what extent are they involved in human affairs, and more specifically to what degree are they involved in racism? If we discover they are involved in racism, what exactly are we supposed to do about it? If we don't think they are involved, then we will do nothing about them."
CityKids Sunday: Know, Grow, Glow & Flow

CityKids Sunday: Know, Grow, Glow & Flow

January 24, 2021

This Sunday, we had the privilege to hear from our new CityKids Director, Jessica, who shared her heart for children's ministry. Jessica reminded us that the children at RCC are as much a part of what the church is about as anyone else, and we have roles to play in shaping, sharpening, and encouraging them. If you want to serve with Jessica in CityKids, please email her at jessica@rivercitysmyrna.com. We also continued hearing testimonies of what Jesus is doing in the lives of our people. Psalm 127:4; Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 46:10a; Colossians 2:7; Ephesians 5:8-10; John 7:38.  

Making Room at The Table

Making Room at The Table

January 17, 2021

This morning, we have the privilege of two messages in one Sunday. First, Shannon shared about her heart for hospitality and how that plays out in her role as the Table Director, inviting us to join her in the mission she has for The Table (Make Room; Make Do; Make Time; Make Space). Then, Josh shared from Psalm 139 and John 1 about what it means to be a "come and see" people who live out the reality that everyone -- friends, friends who vote for the other person, enemies, and ourselves -- are fearfully and wonderfully made. Romans 12:3-8, 13; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; John 1:43-51.

If you'd like to help Shannon at The Table, please email her at shannon@rivercitysmyrna.com.

Josh asked us to consider 4 questions this week: 

1) What are the needs of the body right now?

2) What are the specific anointings over RCC?

3) What specific supernatural graces does RCC have to accomplish the calling RCC has?

4) Are we following the favor God has already given us with Smyrna well?

Josh shared a quote from Debie Thomas: 

"Is it possible for us to see our present moment as Jesus sees it? Instead of deciding that we know everything there is to know about the political “others” in our lives, can we ask God for fresh vision? Instead of assuming that “nothing good” can come of the cultural mess we find ourselves in, can we accept Philip’s invitation to “come and see?” What would happen if we left our comfortable vantage points, and dared to believe that just maybe, we have been limited and hasty in our original certainties about each other, about God, and about the world?  To 'come and see' is to approach all of life with a grace-filled curiosity, to believe that we are holy mysteries to each other, worthy of further exploration. To come and see is to enter into the joy of being deeply seen and deeply known, and to have the very best that lies hidden within us called out and called forth. I write these words in hope. In fragile hope, but hope nonetheless. Not because we’re capable of clear vision on our own, but because we are held by the eternal promise of Jesus who said: 'You will see greater things than these.' We will. We will see heaven open. We will see angels. We will see the love and justice of God. So don’t be afraid. Don’t hide. Don’t despair. Live boldly into the calling of Epiphany. See. Name. Speak. Bless. God is near and God is speaking. Many good things can come out of Nazareth."

Solidarity, the Family, and the New Life

Solidarity, the Family, and the New Life

January 10, 2021

Josh looks at three passages from this week's Lectionary, and we are reminded that to embody the life of Jesus, we are called to repentance and are given an identity. The Creator Spirit that hovers over the waters in Genesis leads us to go low. In Mark, we see Jesus standing in line to be baptized by John who is calling people to repentance. And immediately, the heavens open; the Holy Spirit descends; and the Father calls Jesus, "His Beloved Son." We too are the Father's beloved sons and daughters called to repentance and given the Holy Spirit to live out the new life of unity in Christ. We also heard three more testimonies from the RCC family regarding how the Lord blessed them in 2020. Genesis 1:1-5; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11. 

Thanks and Praise

Thanks and Praise

January 3, 2021

Josh shares from Ephesians 1 and reminds us of the blessings we have seen as a church family over a challenging year like 2020. Like the church in Ephesus, we have many things to be thankful for, and we recognize that all blessings flow from God to us, and from us to others, and then those others praise God for the blessings they've received. And that cycle of blessing and praise continues. We heard from many in the RCC family today testifying of the blessings they've received. Ephesians 1:3-14. 

Josh shared three quotes today: 

1) Allen Hilton: "Christians in Ephesus may have thought their decision was more a shift in religious focus -- no big deal. Just changed habit of worship. Then his letter, read after a meal, and they discovered that their small steps into a new community had been planned by God before the beginning of time. That the steps amounted to God's adoption of them through Christ. That they were part of a plan to bring all separated fragments of creation together in unity through Christ and that this would all end in a glorious inheritance."

2) Thomas Steagald: "We are those chosen for praise to God, destined for worship and appointed unto doxology. If we cannot yet see all that will be we can already sing it. We sing of what will surely come by the grace of God. In doing so, we prove that we are marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit. The spirit serves as a kind of retainer, or sustainer, until the fullness of time. In the day to come, all will sing and give thanks to God; until then, we have received the lavish blessings and redemption sung on behalf of the rest. If the origin of the message of Christmas is that the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, the culmination of the season is that our flesh becomes the praise of God who makes us all one."

3) James McTyre: "God has set in motion an irresistible cycle of gifts and thanks, of which we are destined to be a part of, but certainly not the end. Rather than being entitled by God's spirit of adoption, we are obligated by its purposes. The mark of 'the seal of the promised Holy Spirit' is not that we believe and then stop, satisfied of our own salvation. The mark of the Holy Spirit is seen when we continue to place this imprint of love upon our neighbors, our friends, and even our enemies. By the mystery of God's will, they too will continue the cycle of gift and thanksgiving. What plans do we have, what plans do our churches have in the coming year to live into the mystery of God's will? How do we propose to continue to write, say, and give thanks? How will we continue to share our spiritual, physical, and financial gifts? Will we live another year as people with possessions, or will we live as people with gifts? Will we cautiously parcel out our gifts, or will we heap them lavishly, as God has given them to us? Mercifully, even if we missed the opportunities of Christmas, there are always second Sundays, second chances to begin anew. Our lives can be grateful, again."

 

Celebration in the Waiting

Celebration in the Waiting

December 27, 2020

Kara looks at Luke 2 and John 1 to remind us that Christmas is more than a single day to be celebrated. The purpose of the season is celebration. We have a hard time sitting in celebration. And the twelve days of Christmas are an invitation to celebrate the Emmanuel Jesus. Scripture describes a season of 400 years of silence from God -- of people waiting to celebrate the Messiah's arrival. Simeon and Anna were worshiping God in their waiting into very old age, and they witness Jesus' presentation at the temple. The testimonies of Simeon and Anna serve as a reminder that God did what he said he would do. He is true to his word. And we can celebrate that in our own times of waiting. 

Advent Week 4 - What Is Your Magnificat?

Advent Week 4 - What Is Your Magnificat?

December 20, 2020

As we celebrate the fourth week of Advent, focusing on the theme of love, Josh shares from Luke 1 and the story of the Annunciation of Mary. In response to the angel's news of her role in the incarnation of Jesus, Mary sings a song of praise -- the Magnificat. Jesus continues to break into our lives today. And we have an opportunity to respond to the change and transformation that comes when Jesus breaks in. What will your magnificat sound like? What stories do you have to tell of what Jesus is doing in your life? Luke 1:26-56.

Josh shared a couple of quotes today: 

1) Gail Ricciuti: "People are always puzzled that this pregnant woman who before giving birth speaks of her Offspring approaching Mission as if it's already accomplished. The way in which she sings her song calls a Future Vision into the present. The resulting Synergy reveals a vibrant now in which God's realm is complete and dwelling Among Us. The end is where we start from so that the end precedes the beginning. If so, then the saving justice of God's rain is as good as accomplished among those who can articulate its outlines. We are not used to seeing the realities around us in this way. Realists we call ourselves ignoring the Deep implications of incarnation no less than Resurrection, the new thing God has already done that sleeps below the surface of our perceptions. Now challenges to cultivate the ability to see God's promises as already having come to pass."

2) Debie Thomas: "The Magnificat is a song of too much hope. Of course it is, because "too much hope" is precisely what we're called to cultivate on this fourth and final Sunday in Advent. Can you do it? Can you find your voice and share it with a world more desperately in need than ever? What does your Magnificat sound like this year? How is God magnified through your unique perspective and vision? What stories of divine favor do you have to tell? What glorious reversals do you see heading our way? What words will you choose to describe the  Good News of the Messiah you carry? Don’t wait. Sing it. Sing it now."

The Advent Choir's special song is also included in the podcast. 

Advent Week 3 - Who Are You?

Advent Week 3 - Who Are You?

December 13, 2020

As we celebrate the third week of Advent, focusing on the theme of joy, Josh looks at John the Baptist again but from the perspective of the Gospel of John (different "John" by the way). While John is in the wild baptizing people, the Pharisees send some men to ask him, "Who are you?" And John has to look inward before he looks outward. He could choose to open with how he's the witness described by Isaiah to prepare the way -- to push himself into the forefront. But he doesn't. His first response is one of humility. He tells them that he is not the Christ. He has a purpose -- like we all do -- but it's not to be Christ. He points them to the light. Whatever else we do, our first and primary responsibility is to point others to that same light. Psalm 126; John 1:6-8, 19-28. 

Before his message, Josh also shared some important announcements related to our church staff.

At the end of the message, Josh asked us to consider three questions this week: 

1) How has the Father used this season to enrich and shape you?

2) In what ways can you share your story? How can you testify about His goodness? 

3) Whilst in a season of waiting, how can you celebrate Him right now?  

Advent Week 2 - Comfort Is Coming

Advent Week 2 - Comfort Is Coming

December 6, 2020

As we celebrate the second week of Advent, focusing on the theme of peace, Josh shares from Mark 1 and Isaiah 40 -- both of which discuss "preparing the way of the Lord." What does that look like? Mountains brought low. Valleys lifted up. Uneven ground becomes level. A people in the wilderness reminded that the presence of the Lord is coming. Hope is coming. Peace is coming. Joy is coming. Love is coming. Comfort is coming. John the Baptist prepares the way of Jesus, calling people to confession and repentance. That is how we, in our pride, are brought low to be lifted up by and through the grace of God. Mark 1:1-8; Isaiah 40:1-11. 

Josh shared a quote from Debi Thomas this week: "To locate ourselves at the outskirts of our own power is to acknowledge our vulnerability in the starkest terms. In the wilderness, we have no choice but to wait and watch as if our lives depend on God showing up. Because they do. And it's into such an environment -- an environment so far removed from power as to make power laughable -- that the word of God comes."

https://www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/2838-comfort-my-people

 

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