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The Sign of Jonah: Swallowed in Death, Raised in Life (Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:38

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While the world went looking for Easter eggs and basketball games this weekend, the church of Jesus Christ remembered the resurrection of our Lord. More valuable than anything an egg can offer, and more reliable than any team we cheer, the resurrected Christ offers us forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who turn from sin to trust him. This is what we celebrated o...

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Into the Depths: An Introduction to the Book of Jonah

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Jonah is an amazing book, but one that requires repeated readings, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to the God who created the world, controls the nations, and directs all history to the true prophet, priest, and kingJesus Christ. On Sunday we started a six week journey through the story of Jonah. Let me encourage you to read the book in one sittingit's only 48 ve...

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Red Carpet Christianity: A Summary and Conclusion to the Book of Ephesians

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Since September our church has studied the book of Ephesians. This week, we finished the sermon series with a summary and reflection on Paul's letter. In particular, I argued that the gospel creates communities of faith that learn how to walk together in love. It's this love that displays the wisdom of God to the world and that builds up the individual Christian. To turn ...

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“As Unto the Lord”: Work with Christ at the Center (Ephesians 6:5

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Paul is unashamedly Christ-centered. And it seems that in whatever subject he is discussing, he brings it back to the Lord who saved him and commissioned him to preach his gospel. On this note, we see in Ephesians 6:59 how Paul teaches us to bring Christ to work. In five verses written to slaves and masters, he gives us at least five motivations for the workplace. While w...

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Parents Worthy of Their Calling

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Last November in our study of Ephesians, after considering how Paul established our identity and position in Christ Jesus, we turned to a consideration of "walking worthy of our calling." We looked at walking worthy in unity and maturity, walking in God's love, walking in the light of Christ, and walking wisely by the Spirit of wisdom. Walking by the Spirit of wisdom mark...

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“In the Lord”: Children, Obedience, and the Gospel (Ephesians 6:1

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In Ephesians Paul calls the church to walk in wisdom by the power of the Spirit. This includes children. And in this week's sermon, we saw how children in the Lord (believing children) are motivated to obey and honor their parents. Indeed, in only three verses (Ephesians 6:13) there are a lot of things to consider, especially with the way Paul uses Exodus 20:12 to motivat...

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The Drama of Marriage: What Christ and the Church Teaches Husbands and Wives (Ephesians 5:22

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Few things in life are more delightful and more difficult than marriage. And this week, as our church, returned to the book of Ephesians we picked up Paul's Christ-centered teaching on marriage. You can find the sermon online. Below there are discussion questions with additional resources that include some preliminary thoughts on marriage that fed into this weeks sermon. ...

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Learning to Love One Another: The Gospel, Racial Reconciliation, and Burden-Bearing (Galatians 1

In recent years, it's been hard to miss our country's rise in racial tensions. Or maybe we are just seeing what's been there under the surface all along. Our country seems overwhelmed by all kinds of racialized sentiments.And in the church, Christ's multi-ethnic bride continues to bear the scars of deep-seated racial division and hurt that goes back decades and centuries. ...

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Prayer: From Dust to Life

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Review and discussion questions for Sunday's sermon on Psalm 119:25-32....

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A New Year to See God's Wonders

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Review and discussion questions for Sunday's sermon on Psalm 119:17-24....

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Ten Looks at Christ: A New Year’s Meditation on Isaiah 61:1

The Promised One

Robert Murray McCheyne said famously and wisely: "For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Jesus." On this last day of 2017, we spent our Sunday considering the person and work of Christ from Isaiah 61:13. This sermon wraps up a three-part series on Isaiah 5961 and encourages us to look to Christ as we enter the new year. Indeed, whether we are coming off a great 2...

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Come and Worship the King (Isaiah 60)

The Promised One

At Christmas we celebrate God's light come into the world. And on Christmas Eve this year we looked at how Isaiah 60 both predicts and expands our understanding of God's glorious light.In the fullness of time, we see how the Magi in Matthew 2 fulfill Isaiah's promise of the nations coming to worship the Lord. This teaches us that coming to Zion is not simply a future reali...

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The Divine Warrior in Mary’s Womb (Isaiah 59)

The Promised One

Perhaps Isaiah 59 is not the first passage that comes to mind when you think of Christmas. A month ago, it wasn't on my radar as a "Christmas passage," either. However, after doing some preliminary study on the armor of God in Ephesians 6, which quotes Isaiah 59:17, I soon realized how much Isaiah 59 (with the rest of Isaiah 5666) prepares the way for Christ. Today, we be...

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Walk Worthy (pt. 4): Walk Wisely by the Spirit of Wisdom (Ephesians 5:15

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What is a Spirit-filled church? What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? And if you feel empty of the Spirit, what sort of 'magic' does it take to feel full again? On Sunday, I sought to answer that question from Ephesians 5:1521, as we considered the last of Paul's instructions towalk worthy.In some ways this is the pinnacle of his instructions, going back to Ephesians 4...

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Walk Worthy (pt. 3): Walk in the Light of Christ (Ephesians 5:6

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Walking seems like such a simple thing until we break a toe or all the lights go out. Thankfully, the command to walk worthy of our calling is not something we must figure out on our own or something we must do in our own strength. Rather, in Christ the Christian has been given all they need to walk in love and light. Just as important, we have been given a community wit...

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Walk Worthy (pt 2): Walking in (His) Love (Ephesians 5:1

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After laying out the riches of God's grace and glory in Ephesians 13, Paul turns to the way in which Christians are to walk in their new life. Five times in Ephesians 45 he uses the word "walk: in light of Christ's work of salvation, Paul calls us to walk worthy of our calling (4:1), to walk unlike Gentiles (4:17), to walk in love (5:1), to walk in light (5:8), and to walk...

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New Creation Clothing

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This last Sunday Ben Purves preached on Ephesians 4:17-32. Below you will find the Scripture text, sermon outline, and discussion questions for your family/or Community Group.You can listen to the sermon mp3 here. Ephesians 4:17-3217 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are dark...

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Prayer That Works: Praying to the Father, for the Spirit, to Fill the Church with Christ’s Manifold

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In recent years, few passages have captured my imagination more than Ephesians 3:1421. That is to say, few texts of Scripture have struck me with such a vision for the need for prayer in the church and prayer for the church, and hence my own need to pray more for the church. In Ephesians 13:13, Paul outlines a glorious vision of the church created by Christ's cross and un...

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Martin Luther: Rediscovering the Gospel and Reforming the Church (A Biographical Sermon)

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As we gathered at church this Reformation Sunday, we did so with the fruits of the Reformation still impacting our lives. From the Bibles in our laps (or on our phones) to the message justification by faith alone in Christ alone, we who know the true gospel of grace are, in so many ways indebted to the men and women of the Reformation. Through their suffering, couple with ...

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Grace on Display: In Paul’s Ministry and Christ’s Church (Ephesians 3:1

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Most of the time when we read the Bible we seek to make direct application to ourselves. Because the Bible is for our instruction and sanctification, this is absolutely right. Sometimes in Scripture, however, we find that the first application isnotto ourselves. Ephesians 3:113 is one of those instances, and yet it is also a passage bubbling over with grace for the believe...

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God’s War Memorial (pt 2): How a Diverse Christian Community Displays Christ’s Glory (Ephesians 2:11

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The church is more than just a collection of individual Christians or a consumer-oriented store for the religious. It is a people created by the cross of Christ, joined together in Christ to display his power and grace to the world. For this reason, the church is called a temple. As we learned last week, temples display the power of the God who dwells therein. And in the c...

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Preaching the Psalms Canonically: A Postscript

The Psalms

Instead of a Sermon Discussion guide this week, I've written up something of a Post-Script to the Psalms, a few reflections on reading and preaching the Psalms as one unified book. For the PDFs of each book, seeBook 1,Book 2,Book 3,Book 4,Book 5. Hopefully, in the next few days I can publish the bibliography of resources (books, chapters, articles) that I found useful in r...

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From Dust to Trust: Rebuilding Shattered Dreams with the God of the Psalms

The Psalms

What happens when your dreams are pulverized? To whom do you turn? Where do you run? In the Psalms, Book 3 (Psalms 7389) concludes with the crushing news that the crown of David had been buried in the dust of the earth. In short, because of Israel's sin, and the sin of David's sons in particular, God permitted the nations of Egypt and Babylon to plunder and then exile the...

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From Exaltation to Exile: The Tragic Fall of David’s House

The Psalms

From Exaltation to Exile: The Tragic Fall of David's House In his chapter on the Psalms, Paul House writes of Book 3, Psalms 7389: Subtle shifts in tone, superscriptions and content leading up to historical summaries in Psalms 78 and 89 indicate that part three [Psalms 7389] reflects Israel's decline into sin and exile. This national demise occurs in about 930587 B.C. an...

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Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

The Psalms

This last Sunday we looked at Psalm 73. This psalm displays Asaph's struggle as he observes the wicked prospering while the righteous suffer. Asaph looks horizontally and sees the prosperity of the wicked and how they mock God. He then shifts his focus heavenward and finds correction for his heart. It is then that he can say, "Whom have I in heaven but you?" As you consid...

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The Cross, the Crook, and the Crown

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This last Sunday we considered three Psalms (Psalms 22-24) as a single unit telling one unified story. You could even label this trilogy "The Cross, the Crook, and the Crown." While each is a complete poem in and of itself, we have a more complete picture when we view them together . They are also a trilogy from the standpoint of how we understand the narrator in each of ...

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The Soundtrack of Salvation (pt. 2): The Family Tree of David in Psalms 42

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How do you know who you are? For all of us stories, especially family stories, define who we are. While the world tells us we can define ourselves however we want, the truth is we need an overarching story to set the context for our lives. Apart from Christ, we seek to write a story with our lives that satisfies our cravings and bolsters our self-confidence. When we come...

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The Soundtrack of Salvation (pt. 1): Walking the Hills and Valley of Psalms 1

The Psalms

The Psalters is comprised of 150 Psalms, divided into five books. Is this incidental? Or should we seek to discern the message of the Psalms by examining the five books? Last week, we started our journey through the Psalms, as we considered the way Psalms 12 introduce the whole book. This week, we looked at the first 41 Psalms. In particular we traced what I called three ...

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Wisdom, Kingdom, Salvation: A Three-Paneled Window into the Psalms (Psalms 1

The Psalms

Wisdom, Kingship, and Salvation: Looking at the Psalter through Psalms 1 and 2(Sermon Audio) Few books have had a more personal or profound impact on the worship of the church than the Psalms. And for the next two months our church is going to meditate on their message. But what is their message? And how do we find it? Is it possible to read the Psalms as one unified book...

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Marriage Convenient or Marriage Covenant: Six Truths About and Six Threats Toward Marriage (Genesis

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The Bible begins with a marriage, and it ends with a marriage. In fact, the goal of all humanity is a spiritual union between Christ and his bride the Church. In between, we must decide if we will abide by God's design for marriage or design our own. To be completely honest, every single one of us has sinned and fallen short of God's ideal for sex and marriage. Born outsi...

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Playing Your Part in the Gospel (pt. 1): Planning, Giving, Going, Hosting, and Helping (1 Corinthian

Life Changing Gospel Local Church 2

When Paul finishes his doctrinal defense of the resurrection, he says, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (15:58). Clearly, in his mind the resurrection is not an esoteric point of doctrine; rather, it fuels ministry andmissions. Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 16 ...

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Is It Finished? Clarity and Conviction about the Miraculous Gifts (1 Corinthians 12 -14)

Life Changing Gospel Local Church 2

On the cross Jesus exclaimed this glorious truth: Tetelestai! It is Finished! Our eternal security is settled by this truth. And this week we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday because Jesus Christ finished his gracious work of redemption on on the cross. Strangely, we are less certain about the finished work of the Holy Spirit. Some might even question whethe...

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Speech Therapy: Training Our Tongues to Build Up Others (1 Corinthians 14:1

Life Changing Gospel Local Church 2

Proverbs says a soft answer turns away wrath. James 3 says that the tongue is a fire which can set a whole forest ablaze. 1 Corinthians 14 says to not forbid speaking in tongues, yet it also gives a long list of qualifications. With all these words about the tongue and tongues, how should we proceed? Our words have incredible power for building up or tearing down.This is ...

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The Necessity and Definition of Love (1 Corinthians 13:1

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Yesterday, Ben Purves, pastor for student ministries at our church, preached a tremendous message on 1 Corinthians 13. Let me encourage you to listen to his message, "The Necessity and Definition of Love," as he unpacks Paul's explanation of love in the context of spiritual gifts. Even more, Ben also showed us how Christ fulfilled the qualities of love and how we can look ...

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The Church’s One Foundation: Spiritual Gifts and the Universal Church (1 Corinthians 12:1

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The Church's One Foundation: Spiritual Gifts and the Universal Church (Sermon Audio) This week's sermon looked more closely at the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:810. I argued that the sign gifts were given to the apostles and prophets to "lay the foundation" of the universal church, which is described as Christ's body in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Just as Paul des...

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Holy Spirit Power: The Gift, the Giver, the Goal, and the Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

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Holy Spirit Power: The Gift, the Giver, the Goal, and the Gifts (sermon audio) Despite their obvious flaws, Paul loved the church at Corinth. And in his section on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 1214, he aims to help his spiritual children come to a true understanding of the Holy Spirit and the purpose of the spiritual gifts. Important for us standing twenty centuries ...

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Love Your Neighbor: A Biblical Theology of Race and Ethnicity

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and...

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Exposing Abortion's Allies (pt. 1): Expressive Individualism ( Genesis 4:1-8)

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Abortion is a bloody evil that has taken the lives of almost sixty million children since 1973. Rightly, Christians (and non-Christians like Secular Pro-Life) have stood up against this modern-day holocaust. Through prayer vigils, sermons, information campaigns, legislation, and pro-life marches, much ground has been gained ground in the fight against abortion. But much gr...

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Discipleship Fever: Disciple-Making as Treasure-Seeking (Luke 12:32

Rhythms of Holiness

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:78 Yesterday I preached a message on disciple-making that, for me, is the culmination of about 15 years of thinking on discipleship and Christian hedonism. In college God used...

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Seeking God in His Word (Psalm 119:9-16)

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Yesterday, Ben Purves, our Pastor for Student Ministries at Occoquan Bible Church, continued our series on spiritual disciplines. What follows are some discussion questions and resources to go deeper in Psalm 119....

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Praying with Passion (Psalm 126)

Rhythms of Holiness

As we begin 2017, our church has taken January to focus on a handful of spiritual disciplinespersonal and public. The first in our series is prayer. But instead of just commending its importance and techniques to help, I took the route of seeing how God forms desire for prayer in our hearts. By drawing near to God, by remembering the promises of his Word, and by desiring ...

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What Death Steals, the Lord Can Restore: Remembering Easter at Christmas (Matthew 2:16)

The Promised One

Few passages of Scripture are heavier than Matthew 2:1618, the historical account of Herod's slaughter of the innocent children in Bethlehem. But few passages are also able to reach the depths of human loss and comfort the grieving in their deepest pain. When read in conjunction with Jeremiah 31:15, which Matthew quotes in verse 18, we find in Matthew's Gospel a promise o...

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The Good News ‘Out of Egypt’ (Matthew 2:13

The Promised One

Christmas is a time of holiday cheer, or at least that's the way it's usually sold. But biblically, we find something much different, something much more like what happened in Egypt yesterday morning. In the infancy narratives of Matthew, Jesus becomes a refugee when Herod seeks to take his life. Matthew tells this brief account in Matthew 2:1315 and explains that this was...

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Choose Your Focus This Christmas: Learning from Herod, the Magi, and Matthew (Matthew 2:1)

The Promised One

In Matthew 2:112 we find the incredible story of the Magi. Sunday, Ron Comoglio, one of OBC's elders preached a message on that passage. What follows are discussion questions related to that sermon and further resources for studying the incredible account of the Bethlehem Star which led the Magi to meet the Christ-child and offer him worship. Matthew 12:112 Now after Jes...

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Immanuel: How God Came to Us (Matthew 1:18

The Promised One

This week we started a new sermon series through Matthew 1-2. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we look to the way Matthew explained his birth as the "fulfillment" of God's promises of old. For instance, as Matthew writes, Jesus is Son of Abraham and the Son of David (Matthew 1:1), the "Immanuel" promised in Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23), the royal son born in Bethlehem,...

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A Plate Full of Faithfulness: How Food Reveals and Reforms Our Faith

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"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him," is John Piper's famous dictum fusing God's passion to be worshiped and man's passion to be happy. Yet, spoken into our hyper-individualistic culture, this glorious truth might lead some to think glorifying God is an individual's task. In truth, God is glorified as we use our freedom to serve others. We canno...

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Finding a Redemptive Rhythm: Communion, Culture and Co-Mission Pt. 2

Life Changing Gospel Local Church 2

Last week we saw the covenantal nature of communion and how the Lord's Table not only creates a thick relationship with Christ but also with one another. This week's sermon furthered that discussion looking at ways we must resist the pulls of demonic-inspired idols. In an applicational message on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, I argued Communion creates culture-for good or ba...

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