Going through a difficult season is hard. However, these times are only made worse when it feels as if God is distant from us. Why are there moments when God seems silent, and how should we respond when we don’t feel loved by Him? Check out my latest sermon from Psalm 13 for more.
Where can we turn when it feels like the world is spiraling out of control? In my latest sermon, “Our Refuge & Strength,” we looked at how Psalm 46 answers this question. Even when the storms of life rage around us, we can find safety, security, and strength in our relationship with God.
Tomorrow, we will begin reading the Gospel of John together as a church. As we prepare to enter into this study together, I wanted to give you a few practical suggestions and resource recommendations.
Read at the same time every day – It can be difficult to develop a new habit. One of the most helpful things you can do to encourage regular Bible reading is to do it at the same time every day. Put it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone while you’re getting used to it. This practice will be incredibly helpful as you seek to get into God’s Word regularly.
Take notes as you read – Engage your mind as you read every day. Note specific words or concepts that you don’t understand. Highlight repeated words, themes, or ideas. Write down questions you have so you can return to them later. The more active you are as a reader, the more you’ll benefit from your time in the text.
Ask basic questions as you read – You might be new to reading the Bible, but asking some simple questions as you read can make scripture much more relevant:
- What does this passage teach me about God/Jesus?
- What can I praise God for from what I’ve just read?
- What sins do I need to repent of in light of what I’ve just read?
- What is God asking me to do?
- Where/How should I ask for God’s help?
Pray as you read – For many years, I struggled with having a regular prayer time. I thought that my Bible reading and prayer time had to be two distinct things. However, nothing has encouraged my time with Jesus like connecting my Bible reading to my daily prayers. As you read, what do you feel prompted to pray about? What do you feel like you should ask God for? What should you thank him for? Stop and pray in those moments. If you read your Bible with an eye toward your relationship with God, it will make those times in scripture come alive.
Donald Whitney has an incredibly helpful book on this topic if you’re interested in learning more.
You might not have all of these resources on hand as you begin, but here are some options to think through that will help you get the most out of your reading of John.
A good Study Bible and/or Journaling Bible can significantly aid your time in God’s Word. You might also benefit from an online Bible, which makes searching and cross-references much easier. This particular site also offers a helpful app for your phone.
Commentaries are aids that go through a Biblical book and provide guided instruction. This can be especially helpful when there is a passage you don’t understand. You can find a useful guide to commentaries for John’s Gospel here. I would recommend starting with Colin Kruse or Gary Burge. D.A. Carson’s commentary on John is my favorite commentary on any biblical book I’ve ever read.
Use an audio Bible to listen to the Gospel of John. The Dwell App is incredible for this, and if you don’t already have a subscription, you can sign up for free here.
Interact with others working through The Gospel of John. Every day on City of God’s Instagram and Facebook page, we will have a thread where people can comment on what they’re learning or questions they have. You always get more out of reading the Bible when you do it in community.
I’m so excited to see what God does as we begin this study together. Let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to hearing what you learn from John 1 tomorrow.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
In John 11, Jesus encounters a family grieving the loss of a loved one. What that family didn’t realize was that Jesus was going to change everything about their situation. In an instant, they would move from sadness to deep joy.
In the midst of suffering, Jesus offers this family (and us) life. We currently find ourselves in a situation where people are anxious and fearful. Many are looking for a firm foundation as much of what they have put their hope and trust in is being threatened. What we all need is a fresh encounter with Jesus. We need a new experience of the life that he offers to all people.
This desire to encounter Jesus is at the heart of City of God Church’s new 21-day study “That You May Believe.” Over three weeks, we will walk through the Gospel of John together. What makes Jesus Christ such an important figure in our world today, what does it mean to follow him, and how can we begin to experience the life that he offers? Join us on this journey as we seek to answer these questions (and many others) in the coming days.
How can you get involved?
- Daily Readings
We will follow a reading schedule that will take us through the Gospel of John in twenty-one days. This will require reading one chapter from the Gospel of John every day. You might do this with your family, with a group of friends, or by yourself in your personal time with Jesus. You can find the schedule below:
|John 1 (3/19)||John 2 (3/20)||John 3 (3/21)||John 4 (3/22)||John 5 (3/23)||John 6 (3/24)||John 7 (3/25)|
|John 8 (3/26)||John 9 (3/27)||John 10 (3/28)||John 11 (3/29)||John 12 (3/30)||John 13 (3/31)||John 14 (4/1)|
|John 15 (4/2)||John 16 (4/3)||John 17 (4/4)||John 18 (4/5)||John 19 (4/6)||John 20 (4/7)||John 21 (4/8)|
2. Daily Devotional
Every day, you will be able to read a brief daily devotional regarding one aspect of that day’s chapter on this blog. Check back here daily for updates.
3. Join the Conversation
On Eric Roseberry and City of God’s social media accounts (see below), we will provide daily opportunities for you to share with others what you’re learning and what questions you have. Post your thoughts on each day’s reading, engage with others who are working through this Gospel, and provide us with questions that you’d like to have answered.
4. Watch/Listen to Followup Teaching
Every few days, Pastor Eric will post a brief video and podcast responding to the topics you’ve raised. To make sure you aren’t missing these follow up teachings, ensure that you’re following the social media accounts listed below.
- Facebook (City of God Church & Eric Roseberry)
- Instagram (City of God Church & Eric Roseberry)
- Twitter (City of God Church & Eric Roseberry)
- YouTube (City of God Church)
- Podcast (City of God Church & Eric Roseberry)
5. Join Us for a Weekly Conversation
Once a week, Pastor Eric will host a video chat where interested participants can go deeper into their study of John’s Gospel. A schedule of these calls will be made available soon.
We might not be able to gather corporately as the church over the next few weeks, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop growing closer to Jesus together. We would love for you to join us on this journey through the Gospel of John. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for all of us as we reencounter Jesus.
Check back tomorrow, and we will provide some resources that will help guide you on this journey.
1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has long been one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament to understand. What’s clear in this text is that Paul is concerned with how husbands and wives live and worship together in the church. What does it look like to recognize that men and women are both created in the image of God, but that they have been given unique and distinct roles to play in the Christian life? Check out my latest sermon for more.
What gives you security in your relationship with Christ? Often, we think our relationship with God is solid if we are doing enough things for him. However, it’s possible to participate in a lot of religious activity without ever actually loving Jesus.
How can we guard against loving other things more than God, and ultimately, where should our security be? Check out our latest sermon from 1 Corinthians for more.
What motivates you? There are plenty of ways you might answer that question. For some, it’s status or significance. For others, it’s taking care of the people in your life. Still others might be motivated by a fear of failure. The options are endless.
But what motivated the Apostle Paul to live the life that he lived? At the end of the day, Paul was willing to endure suffering and lay down his preferences with the hope that he might save as many people as possible. How can we share this motivation and what change will it require in us? Listen for more.
City of God,
We are currently in a very exciting season at our church. Recently, we’ve had more people worshiping with us than ever, and it seems as if there is an increased sensitivity to the work of God in the lives of our people. Our pastors are regularly hearing stories of how God is working in the lives of our people to call them to repentance, give them a deeper love for Jesus, and send them out on mission.
Every church has its ups and downs, but while we’re in this current fruitful season, we wanted to encourage you with a few things as we try and steward well what God has given us.
God brings the growth.
At the end of the day, if real change occurs in the lives of our people, it is ultimately due to the grace of God. Scripture reminds us that God is the one who draws people to Jesus (Jn. 6:44), allows us to receive spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2), empowers us for service (Eph. 4:7), and helps us persevere in the Christian faith (1 Pt. 1:5). If it seems like there is an unusual amount of fruit at City of God right now, then it should not lead to arrogance or confidence in ourselves. Rather, increased spiritual fruit should lead us to worship, and we should make it our priority to praise God for what He’s doing in this church body.
Bigger Crowds Don’t Always Equal Health
We’ve been so excited to see many new people worshiping with us in the past few months. While a growing church can be one sign that things are going well, simply having more people in worship doesn’t always equal spiritual health. We’re reminded of the scene in John 6 when a number of people followed Jesus for the wrong reasons, and in the end, they abandoned him once His teaching got more difficult.
You can grow a large church and not be about the right things. As our church grows, it might become tempting for our main concern to be adding more people instead of focusing on Christ. Our leaders are committed to doing the things we’ve always done at City of God. We’re going to preach the Bible, call people to respond to the gospel, gather in worship, build relationships with each other in City Groups, and live out the mission that God has given us in this city. In the midst of such an exciting season, pray that we would remain focused on Jesus and the gospel.
One of the most important things you can do as a member of this church right now is to pray.
- Pray that God’s will would be done in Lafayette through City of God, and in all of the churches in this city (Matt. 6:10)
- Pray for boldness to continue to preach the gospel (Ac. 4:29-30)
- Pray that God would open the hearts of many people to the gospel (Ac. 16:14)
- Pray that we would love Jesus deeply (Phil. 1:9-11)
- Pray for unity in the church (Jn. 17:20-23; Eph. 4:1-3)
- Pray for laborers (Matt. 9:38)
- Pray that we would steward well what God has given us (Matt. 25)
How can you serve?
As God continues to increase the number of people who call City of God home, we are going to need more people willing to step into service and leadership opportunities. There is already a group of volunteers at City of God serving at max capacity, and we are in need of as many people as possible to begin engaging and serving as they’re able and gifted (1 Cor. 12).
In particular, our hospitality and children’s ministry is always in need of more volunteers. You can find out more information about those opportunities here. However, there are also plenty of opportunities to begin serving outside of Sunday morning. Would you join a City Group and help our family of believers grow closer to Jesus together? Would you ask what ministry God might have for you to accomplish in your neighborhood, workplace, or school? Would you consider giving if you aren’t? Anything that you’re able to do will help us as we seek to love the people God is leading to us.
Embrace the Inconvenience
As our congregation grows, there are going to be some inconveniences we have to deal with in the short term. The services are going to be full, parking is going to be more difficult to find, and there are going to be increased demands on the time and attention of our leaders and members. Is this inconvenient? Yes. Are these great problems to have? Absolutely.
Our leaders are hard at work on a plan that is going to alleviate some of this pressure, but in the short term, we need to embrace the inconvenience so that as many people as possible can come to know Jesus and grow closer to Him. It’s easy to look only at how these problems affect us individually, but let’s not forget to look around and realize what God is doing in the lives of those around us. These are great problems to have, and God is at work.
I love this church. I love being one of your pastors. I love what God is doing in our church right now. I hope you’ll prayerfully consider what role God might have for you to play in this current season. I hope you’ll invite someone to City of God this Sunday. I hope you’ll join us in praising God for the life change we’re seeing. I hope you’ll remember that everything we’ve seen happen over the past ten years is totally God’s grace and that he is such a good Father.
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
For some, it sounds odd to refer to the “gift” of singleness, and the church has not always handled this topic well. All too often, we make people feel like there is something deficient with them until they find a spouse. However, this is not the approach Paul takes to singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. In fact, he argues that there are several reasons he prefers being single. Paul’s singleness gave him the opportunity to give his undivided attention to the Lord, and to pursue God’s call on his life without any constraints.
Whether you’re single and desire to be married at some point or you think God might be calling you to lifelong singleness by his grace, you can experience all of the joy and happiness that God has for you in this life right now. How do we do that, and what does it look like for all of us (married or single) to live with God as our highest priority? Check out “The Gift of Singleness” below: