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STANDING STRONG

To stand strong you must dig deep.

Be it buildings, tall trees, or the ability to weather life storms like pandemics or communities in chaos, strength above is directly connected to strength below; outward resilience and stamina is powerfully tied to inward depth. To stand strong you must dig deep. True for each of us as individuals, and for First Church as we step into the next chapter of our story. We will look at texts that help us see the connection between depth in our spiritual lives and strength for the rest of our living.

June 21: Luke 5:1-11 - Jesus invites Peter to drop his nets into deep water. The miracle that follows opens the door for Peter to engage deeper realities about himself.

June 28: Luke 6:46-49 - the "wise builder" digs down deep to find solid stone for a foundation so that the building can stand against the wind. Standing strong in life requires digging deep for a foundation that will provide confidence and certainty when life storms blow.

July 5: John 15:1-2 - Digging deep means allowing God to "prune" our lives so that fruitful things can become even more fruitful in the times to come.

July 12: John 15:4-8 - Pruning (and life itself) is only productive if it remains powerfully attached to the vine.

The next part of this series will be an in depth look at Acts 2:42-47. Post Pentecost, the church arranges its life around practices that would come to define the new Christian community. These things are not programs. They are not pastors or other leaders. They are not personal preferences or styles. They are practices that focus on deepening connection with the living Lord and with each other. And in response, the Lord adds to their number day by day others who are finding new life in Jesus. The only place in scripture that is indicated. Each of the following weeks will deal with one "practice" and will have complementary scripture references, which I will get to you next week.

July 19: “Apostles teaching” – the Jesus story and the OT (their scripture) seen through the lens of the Jesus story.

July 26:“Fellowship” – life in community; not community as part of life, but life defined by and in community with the other sisters and brothers following Jesus; they shared life, eating together and sharing time in each other’s homes.

August 2: “Breaking of bread” – a clear reference to the importance of the Lord’s supper as reminder and means of grace into life; also likely a reference to some form of commonly shared “meals.”

August 9: “Prayer” – some translate “the prayers” here referring to the set prayer times at the Temple; but likely also referring to prayer as a defining element of a deepening connection to the living Lord.

August 16: “Generous Service” – they liquidated resources as they were able and as needs within the community became apparent; they shared life – what was a blessing or challenge for one became blessing and challenge for all.

August 23: “Regular Corporate worship” – they met together consistently in the temple for set times of corporate worship; there was and is a power when Jesus followers gather to proclaim what they believe as true about him – reminding each other of who God is and what the story of God and God’s people is really about.

August 30: Ezekiel 47:1-12 - series wrap up: deep water flowing from God's presence creates abundant life, even in places it's never been before.