There is plenty of fear and hostility in this world, and sometimes our choices on how to react boil down to two: fight or flight. In this sermon, RCS Pastor Ryan Cogswell shows how the apostle Peter advises us to respond. The good news? Fear and hostility ultimately have no power over those who follow Jesus, because of His work on the Cross on our behalf.
How do we witness to others while suffering? Pastor Ryan Cogswell tells us how, citing 1 Peter 2: 18-25.
The first sermon in the May 2017 series "Living Hope" is now available for you to watch on YouTube. The message, "Be Who You Are Called to Be," is based on 1 Peter 2: 1-10.
We are pleased to announce that Pastor Ryan Cogswell's sermons are now available on our Reformed Church of Syracuse YouTube Channel! Click on the Sermons playlist to watch a sampling from our Sunday morning services, beginning with selections from the 2016 Christmas series "What Are You Losing For Christmas?" We will continue to update the videos, so please visit the Sermons playlist often.
As we conclude our study of the book of Mark, reflect on this drawing outlining the major themes and events of the story. Of course, Jesus on the cross is at the center of it all! (Click on the link below to download the drawing).
You may have sung these hymns many times. Have you ever considered what their meanings and messages are? We have compiled a list of hymns, sung and talked about in our church's January 8th, 2017 worship service, and notes on what the Bible has to tell us about their themes. To hear all of these sacred songs, click on this link to our video playlist.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!"
Although "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is a traditional Christmas song, it is not just telling the story of the angel announcing Jesus' birth. This hymn reminds us that all of the angels in heaven are constantly praising Jesus Christ! When we sing and worship Him, we are never alone, but we are, literally, singing with the angels. Note how we sing “Joyful all ye nations rise, JOIN the triumph of the SKIES” and “Christ, by highest HEAVEN adored.” Christ is so wonderful, even angels worship Him!
Even though He is worshiped by angels, Christ was born as a normal human being. Even still, He had all the glory of God. The fullness of God lived in a human body, meaning that the Holy of Holies was no longer in the temple behind a veil, but among us, covered only by human flesh. Hence, we sing “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.” Emmanuel, by the way, means “God with us.”
Christ became a human so that He could die and rise again. When He did this, He enabled all of us to live a new life in Him. As the hymn says, He was “born to raise each child of earth, born to give us second birth.” So give thanks to God for the gift of new life whenever you sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
"We Three Kings"
The Bible tells us that some wise men (the Bible does not say that there were three) visited Jesus after He was born. They followed the light of a star to find Him and they brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were not just random gifts; they each had a special meaning.
Gold: Gold was considered the right kind of gift to give to a king. Every king who knows what He's doing has gold! That's why the wise men brought gold to Jesus: to show He was King!
Frankincense: Frankincense was burned to release a very nice smell. The ancient Jews burned frankincense in the temple as an offering to God, so frankincense came to represent God. The wise men brought frankincense to Jesus to show that He was God.
Myrrh: Myrrh was a substance that came out of certain bushes. It had a strong smell and was a very powerful chemical. It was often used on dead bodies to preserve them, so myrrh represented death. The wise men gave Jesus myrrh to show that He would die as a sacrifice.
"We Three Kings" uses the symbolism of the gifts given to Jesus to tell us a lot about who Jesus is. He is our King, we are obedient to Him, serving Him with our whole heart, and He rules wisely over us and takes care of us. He is our God; we worship Him for His power and His wisdom. Even though He is our King and our God, He also died for us, giving His life so that we could have eternal life with Him. Jesus Christ is so many things to us, as we celebrate whenever we sing "We Three Kings."
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is a plea to God to provide us with the rich blessings that only He can provide.
Verse 1 literally asks for a song. The grace of God is so incredible, nothing that we can think of adequately expresses our thanks. That's why we ask God to tune our hearts and teach us some melodious sonnet. This hope will be fulfilled, because Revelation 14 promises that when Jesus returns we will “sing a new song before the throne.”
Verse 2 confesses that God blesses us even though we don't deserve it. He keeps us safe even when we endanger ourselves. Specifically, He rescued us from danger by shedding His own blood, or interposing His blood, so that our blood would not be shed. Romans 5 reminds us that “while we were yet sinners, yet Christ died for us.” The bleeding side of Christ is, indeed, the fount of every blessing.
Verse 3 asks God to keep us close to Him. Though we are indebted to God for everything, we must confess that we are prone to wander. Therefore, as we worship God, we ask that He use His strength to bind our hearts to Him. 2 Corinthians assures us that God “has put His seal of ownership on us” by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We approach God with humble spirits, asking for all that we need as we sing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
"For All the Saints"
"For All the Saints" is about so much more than remembering Christian brothers and sisters who have passed. It is about the amazing God that they worshiped in life and will worship forever!
Vs. 1 gives thanks to Jesus for the ministry of those who came before. We ask that Jesus' name be blessed forever for the people who were sent before to confess Him to the whole world. Many of us know a special saint of the past, someone of amazing faith who told us about Jesus Christ. We are right to give glory and thanks to God for that person.
Vs. 2 Celebrates everything God did for the saints of the past and continues to do for us. He was a fortress in danger, a leader in battle, a light in darkness. Though those of the past have died, we still have a mysterious communion with them because we all belong to Christ. As vs. 3 says, “Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.”
Vs. 4 reminds us that in the middle of our difficulties and struggles here below, we know that victory awaits. In that day, the more glorious day mentioned in vs. 5, Christ will return and all of the saints of the past will rise to perfect life again at the return of their king to earth. Then, all together, a countless host of risen people from all over the world will flood into God's city and sing His praise in unity forever.
We sing "For All The Saints" in memory of the saints of the past, in anticipation of our future glory, and in thanksgiving to our God for the hope and life He gives us.
Because Jesus Christ is sufficient, the disciples did not have to be guilty or anxious about forgetting to bring enough bread.
Because Jesus Christ is sufficient, we do not have to be guilty or anxious for not doing enough good in our own lives.
This principle is summarized in Hebrews 9:14. "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
Without blemish: means Christ was a perfect, sufficient sacrifice
Purify our conscience: means we must no longer suffer anxiety or guilt about our insufficiency
Dead works: means the stuff we do to try to be sufficient, but it never works.
Serve the Living God: means we do everything to worship and thank God, not to try to be perfect or sufficient on our own.
We started our Stewardship Series: Investing in Christ by looking at Mark 8:1-10 and comparing a crowd of disciples in the wilderness with our own church. Here is what we saw:
The crowd in the story:
3 days Without food + In a desert = Desperate situation
They invested what little food they had in Christ and He fed them all with extra.
Thinning resources + culture does not support church = Desperate situation
Scripture calls us to focus all of our investments on the Gospel of Christ.
Check out the Mark Madness channel on RightNow media for a new video that helps us get perspective on our stewardship investments.
In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus and His disciples had to make two choices: how to encounter a crowd and what to do when the crowd was hungry. Jesus choices show us how we as a church must respond to our world.
We were challenged to get to know our neighbors who are lost and hungry so that our church can learn how to show them to Jesus Christ, the true shepherd and the bread of life.
Follow this link to see an inspiring video about a church that is encountering the world around it and feeding those who are spiritually hungry: https://rightnow.org/Content/illustration/103588
Continuing in Mark 5, Pastor Ryan spoke on Sunday, July 17th, of the fourth way in which Christ shows that He is King by bringing Jairus' daughter back to life. The chart below shows how Jesus changed everything in our world by dying on the cross to cancel our sin.