Christmas Through the Eyes of __________________

November 29, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

While I was growing up my pastor did a sermon series during Advent titled “Christmas Through the Eyes of ____________.” Each sermon looked at the birth of Christ through the eyes of a different participant in the event. We heard sermons about the perspectives of Joseph and Mary and Herod and Gabriel and the Shepherds and so on. Our pastor carried on this series over multiple Advents. One of the points that struck me throughout this series was that the coming of Christ had a multi-faceted impact on the people of this world. For some, Christ’s arrival brought joy. For others there was fear or uncertainty or threat. Still others were skeptical. The person of Christ and the celebration of Christmas continues to have this multi-faceted impact on people. Are we aware of this for ourselves and for those we interact with during this season? During this Advent at Oak Hills we will be looking at Christmas Through the Eyes of Jeremiah (yes, I’m stealing the idea from my pastor, although he never did a sermon on Jeremiah). Jeremiah typically is not looked up during the Advent season for “Christmas passages.” People are familiar with Isaiah 7 (“the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”), Isaiah 9 (“for to us a child is born…”), and Micah 5 (“O Bethlehem…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler”). And we love Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 for the birth narratives. But…Jeremiah? The “Weeping Prophet”? What does he have to do with Christmas? ... Keep Reading

The Marks of Faith

November 22, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

As we have worked our way through Hebrews 11, the great “Hall of Faith,” the author has highlighted various characteristics of faith. Genuine faith is revealed by distinct qualities that emphasize the goodness of God. In the example of Noah, we see that faith reverently fears God (v. 7). Through faith Noah acknowledged and respected the sovereignty of God to pass judgment on the world. He cast himself and his family on the mercy of God by building the ark. In the example of Abraham, we see that faith endures under hardship and trial (v. 8, 17). Abraham’s life was marked by hardship after hardship: without land, without child, without security, and then, when he finally receives a son by miraculous birth, God calls him to sacrifice his son. Only by faith is Abraham able to look beyond the present hardship to the God who can do abundantly more (v. 10, 19).... Keep Reading

How Mighty Are Your Enemies?

November 15, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 18. David opens with these beautiful words and images: “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” (v. 1-3) As I came to read this psalm again this morning, one that I have read hundreds of times and have led Bible studies on, I am astonished once more by the unfathomable riches of the Word of God. A new insight! A new encouragement! This is why reading Scripture never grows old or mundane or stale or boring. Let me share with you how God spoke afresh to me through his Word.... Keep Reading

The Consideration of Faith

November 8, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past Sunday, as we studied Abraham’s example of faith in Hebrews 11, I highlighted several distinguishing marks of faith. The first mark was faith makes a consideration. We see this in Hebrews 11:19, “[Abraham] considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.” When Abraham faced the trial of sacrificing his only begotten son, faith led him to make a consideration: what will dictate his response, the circumstances of the trial or the promises of God? Hebrews 11:19 states that Abraham let God’s promises direct his response and actions. This word “considered” is a mathematical term, which can be translated as reckoned, calculated, or accounted. This word is used in the Greek translation of Genesis 15:6, which Paul expounds in Romans 4. “Abraham believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” This is a mathematical, accounting term. Simply by his faith, God credited Abraham positive righteousness. This is the wonder of justification and our salvation.... Keep Reading

Faith Considers the Promises of God

November 1, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When I first began to serve Oak Hills as pastor in August 2011, I preached a sermon from Hebrews 11:13-16 titled “Where are We Going?” Hebrews 11 is called the great chapter of faith in the Bible. It chronicles the stories of Old Testament saints who demonstrate that faith shaped their lives. Most examples highlight significant trials. I get to preach on this text again this Sunday and I want to ask a different question. The writer of Hebrews makes a summary statement in the middle of the chapter, stating that these people of faith were “seeking a homeland…a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (v. 14, 16). Essential to biblical, God-pleasing faith is this longing and looking for the “better country” God has for us. Faith “sees” beyond present, physical circumstances and seeks what God has promised. ... Keep Reading

What is Faith?

October 25, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

How you define faith is of utmost importance, right? Think about it. The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (11:6). And Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The importance of faith becomes even more clear when we understand that the verb “believe” (Gr. pisteuo) is just a form of the noun “faith” (Gr. pistis). So we hear John say that he wrote his gospel, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). Faith, or believing, is the vital link to eternal life, as Jesus says, “whoever believes in him (God’s only Son) should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16); and again, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (5:24). How you define faith is of utmost importance. Faith is the vital link to eternal life, pleasing God, overcoming sin, and escaping death and judgment. So how do you define faith? ... Keep Reading

Plunder My Property

October 18, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Every October, Moody Bible Institute hosts a missions conference. They give their students a break from their classes and invite everyone to prayerfully consider the global missions moment. A special keynote speaker addresses the biblical grounds and calling of missions. Representatives of sending agencies lead break out seminars on a wide variety of topics. Some were great, some were…not so great. One seminar stands out in my memory. The topic was the use of hospitality in missions. While the overall content was excellent, one line from the presenter still sticks with me: “If you want to find out the depth of someone’s love of people, go into their house and break something.” The test reveals whether possessions or people are more valuable. Ultimately, the presenter wanted to challenge us, the young college students, to grow in our love for people; hospitality is using our God-given possessions to serve people. ... Keep Reading

The Battle for Assurance

October 11, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout my ministry as a pastor, one of the most recurring and greatest struggles among followers of Christ is that of assurance. Whether it is a teenager thinking through doubts, or a grown man who has been caught in a grievous sin, or someone who has been caught up in the great American scheme of doing everything himself, assurance of salvation often is elusive. Can I really be confident that God will save me? Forgive me of all my sins? Without my help? This struggle for assurance is only further complicated by warning passages in the New Testament, such as Hebrews 10:26-27: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. ... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 2)

October 4, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Last week we looked at Psalm 121 and how the Psalms are an excellent resource because they 1) connect with us in our varied emotional states, from weak and desperate to strong and rejoicing, and 2) remind us of who exactly it is that we are praying to ... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 1)

September 27, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Over the next two weeks I’ve been given the chance to write for the weekly Touchpoint article. Given my current preaching series from the Psalms, I thought this might be a good opportunity to expound upon my fascination with/ appreciation for, the Psalms. There are a number of benefits to reading the Psalms regularly. Often times they connect with us emotionally in ways other biblical texts don’t, they also remind us of various attributes of God giving us a greater reason to worship and adore him. In all these things the Psalms minister to us in unique and refreshing ways. This article, and the next, will be an attempt to identify and expound upon some of those benefits of regularly reading the Psalms with a case study of one of my most favorite Psalms, Psalm 121. So pick up your bibles, turn to the Psalter, and let’s get going!... Keep Reading

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