Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture points and the main idea of the message.
  2. What have you learned about God this year? How has God helped you to better understand your identity in Him? 
  3. What has God taught you about the Church this year? 
    • How has He used you within the Church? 
    • How has the Church helped you to grow in faith this year? 
  4. How have you demonstrated God’s love your neighbors, friends, coworkers, classmates, etc. this year? 
  5. Who have you been specifically praying for to come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior? How has God answered your prayers? 
  6. How have you seen God move in the world this year? 
  7. What action step do you need to take in response to this week’s message? How can your group hold you accountable to this step? 

Action Step

Spend time praying and reflecting on this past year and looking forward to this upcoming year. Complete pages 52-55 in the Advent Booklet to help you in your reflection. 


Sermon Transcript

If you're like me, it could be easy to hear a sermon on a Sunday morning, and by Wednesday, not even think about the majority of what you heard on Sunday. And as a church, we gather week by week under the preaching of the word. And so what we wanted to do this morning was go back and recall some of the things that we learned through the preaching of God's word from 2023. And we divided our morning up into three categories: remember God, remember the church, and remember the world. And we're going to be looking at sermon clips that connect with those three themes. And so for our first theme, we're going to be looking at remember God, and specifically we want to remember what God has done for us in His Son, in the work of Christ on the cross. We want to remember the gospel. So to start us off, please turn your attention to the screen as we look at our first sermon clip from the last year.

- Then I'll also tell us this, go to the cross and settle there. See, I've just walked through these in reverse order for us. You see, go to the cross and settle there. You see, like Jacob, maybe our lives feel like they are spinning out of control. Maybe we have drifted away from the Lord. Maybe it's time for us all to take that action step together, saying no to idols, remembering who we are, changing our clothes for the new garments that we have, but we need to come back to the cross, come back to where God has met us and settle your heart there. Keep what Jesus has done for us always in view of your heart. Because it's at the cross where God and man meet. It's at the cross where hope and healing and mercy are found. It is at the cross where Jesus triumphed over Satan and disarmed every power and authority. It is at the cross where our old life can be put to death and a new life can be found. It is at the cross where we find the God of the universe humbling himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. It is at the cross where all of our sin and shame were poured out on Jesus, and He, in exchange, gave us His righteousness. It's at the cross where the vilest of our thoughts, the evilness of our hearts, and the rebellious nature of our actions are judged rightly as it's poured out on Jesus. But we're met with mercy and forgiveness. And it's through the cross, and on the other side of it, where we find resurrection life, resurrection hope, and a resurrection destiny. It's at the cross where God and man meet. So come back to the cross and let God meet with you there because He loves you, He cares for you, He's given himself for us. This is why the Apostle Paul, listen to First Corinthians chapter two. "And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolve to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Listen to Galatians 6:14, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Listen to Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." You see, it's the altar of the cross that gives us hope. It's the altar of the cross where we can find what Jesus has done, where His love has been poured out for us so that we can see what God has done. So return and settle your heart there over and over and over and over again.

- So this sermon was preached back in the summer. And in this sermon, Pastor Edwin was walking through the life of Jacob. And one of the passages that he took us to was Genesis chapter 35. And in Genesis 35, we see Jacob going to a place called Bethel. And that was where he first had an encounter with God that would really, in many ways, be a marker for the rest of his life. And at Bethel, he set up an altar to commemorate the place where God had met with him. And in this sermon, Pastor Edwin pointed us ultimately to the true and better altar, the true and better place where God has met with man. And that's the cross. And as you just heard, he exhorted us to return to the cross over and over again and to settle our hearts there. In the midst of our lives, it can be so easy to forget about the cross. We get caught up in our own busyness. We get bogged down by the temptations that we struggle with in our own hearts. We are discouraged by the sins that we wrestle with on a daily basis. We can wrestle with shame and guilt and condemnation, and it can be easy to neglect the truth that Jesus Christ has died on the cross and that changes everything for us. So we want to be people who come back to the cross and settle there over and over again. And I want us to take a moment to do that right now as we're gathered: by reflecting on three different passages of scripture to settle our hearts to the cross. So what's going to happen is three different verses are going to come up on the screen. I'm going to read them out loud and I want you to take a moment to yourself to read that verse, to reflect upon it, and, even if you'd like, use this time to pray. So the first verse is Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Go ahead, read the word of God, let it speak to you and reflect upon it. The next verse is 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Reflect upon the word of God in this moment. And the final verse is Revelation 5:9, "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.'" Go ahead and take a moment to reflect upon this verse. These three verses teach us truths that are deeply significant for us. We learn that God has tangibly demonstrated His love for us in the cross. And when we look at the cross, we can be assured that God does indeed love us. We learn that in the cross, God made His Son our sin, our sins were placed upon Jesus. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that in Christ we could receive His perfect righteousness and have a right standing with God forever. And we learn that God, by the blood of Christ, has purchased people for himself from every ethnic group in the world, and you and I get to be a part of that people. These are truths that are deeply significant for the health of our own souls, for the well-being of our relationship with the Lord. And our whole faith is rooted in the reality of who Christ is and what He has done. And so as followers of Christ, we want to be people who regularly reflect upon the gospel. And so in 2024, let's make it a habit to train our minds and hearts to settle at the cross, to go back to the cross regularly and settle there and rest there. And we can do that through daily engaging in scripture like the ones we just read, through engaging in rich gospel-centered songs that remind our minds of the truth of the gospel. We do that as we gather together regularly. We are reminded of what Christ has done. Whatever it looks like, we want to be people that regularly go back to the cross and settle there over and over again. Because as we do, the gospel will change us so that we look more and more like Jesus Christ in our daily lives. Continuing to reflect upon this theme of remembering God and reflecting upon the gospel, look back at the screen with me as we watch our second sermon clip for the day.

- It's a matter of this, "become what you already are," and that is a strikingly different approach from "try to be a bit better than you are." If we start to lock into this, we will start to get it. Now for the believer in Jesus, the old self is, what?

- [Congregation] Dead. It's why I keep coming back to it, but I realize that some of you right now are saying... But it doesn't feel dead to me. I hear you on that by the way. But let me ask you a question. Are you okay with allowing how you feel to dictate truth? I wouldn't recommend it, because you'll find out every day of the week how bad that is. Like, just push me into the fall, when we do the time change for fallback, and then we move into December, and in December it's dark at 4:30. How many love that? Okay, no one, including me. Oh, one kid loves it. That's awesome. It's like it's fantastic. I feel like I get to stay up later at night, right? I feel like I'm supposed to go to bed, but I don't have to. It's awesome, right? So I come home from work, it's six o'clock. It feels like nine. Anybody know that? But I know that it's not. I know what time it is, objectively. It's nine, I mean it's six p.m., but it feels like nine p.m. I can't let what it feels like determine what is. And so we have to make sure that we don't put ourselves in that kind of position to say, "Well, I don't feel like I'm dead to sin." What has God said is true, though. That's what we have to bank on. So become what you are. Your old self that lived in the land of Adam is gone if you've truly put your faith in Jesus. It is dead, positionally. We may still listen at times to the voices over the wall, but you are not your sin anymore. You're different. You live in a different place. Have you ever had somebody that you know real well, maybe you've even done it and you've made a mistake and maybe it's what people would consider an out of character mistake for you, and you've said this, "That's not who I am." Now I can't speak to how true or not that is when somebody says that, just in the general populace, but I can say, for a believer in Christ, that's true. That's true. It's a huge difference from being a sinner who cannot help but sin because they are governed by it and being a saint who sometimes sins. Those are two different places to live. And it will shape our identity depending on which place we choose to believe we are. That's why what we need to do is we need to internalize this truth. If you are a believer in Jesus, your old self is, what?

- [Congregation] Dead.

- You have to internalize that truth so you can begin to externalize sin and be able to have a conversation with sin. You are not the boss of me. I have the power not to sin. I am not under your authority. I don't live at that address any longer.

- [Congregant] Amen.

- This is where we have to find ourselves. And it's hard, I know. I know. And probably next week, no promises, but probably next week I'm going to talk more practically. But maybe what you need to do to start dealing with this and start really landing in the place you ought to land because what you believe is going to shape your identity, maybe you need to write a selfie obituary. For your old self. I found a lady who did. I thought it was awesome, so I'm going to read it to you. Her first name is also awesome. It's Punky. Those of you who are old enough to remember the show "Punky Brewster," it's probably the only time you've ever heard the name Punky, right? She wrote an obituary to her old self. I remember she's just kind of making this up, kind of. She said, "The community of empty heart is mourning the loss of one of its most loyal supporters, Punky Leonard Tolson, who died at the age of 38. Throughout her brief old self lifetime, Punky struggled with a constant critical spirit within her, a nagging comparison of herself to others and a deadly addiction to human love. A veteran people pleaser, she was often the life of the party and was most known for masquerading her obsessive hunger for love and acceptance with sarcastic humor. Punky was most known for her dramatic attempts to be what everyone else expected her to be, which naturally led her to a career in film, TV, and theater where she earned critical acclaim in such roles as needy, desperate, adulterer, liar, and her award-winning performance as insecure in the Broadway musical, 'Who Am I Anyway?' Through her battle with comparison and a self-critical spirit, she nearly completely wished away the life she was supposed to live. Finally, in 1996, Punky succumbed to a dramatic fall into a slimy pit of despair where muck and mire pulled her under. But Punky has survived by the blood of Jesus, by the grace and mercy of God, by the kindness of her Savior, by the power of Christ, by a true identity in Him, and a ministry made out of her many messes. In lieu of flowers, investments of your life can be made to making Disciples of Jesus Christ."

- Amen. Amen. In the book of Romans chapter 6, verse 11, Paul says this, "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Here in the sermon clip, Pastor Jerry reminded us that in Christ we are not defined by our sin anymore. It is not our master, we are not identified with it, but instead we are set free to a new life in Jesus Christ. We actually are called saints in the scriptures, meaning we are God's holy ones because we are now in Christ so we have a brand new identity in Him. How often do you and I actually believe that? How often do you and I actually believe that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ, that our old self in the land of Adam, as Pastor Jerry said, is dead and that we have a new life and identity in Jesus? So what I want us to do is I want us to take a minute for some personal reflection and prayer. And I want us to ask ourselves, is there anything in our lives that we are holding on to from our old life? Is there sins that we are giving into regularly that are more in line with who we once were but not who we are now in Jesus? And I want us to ask the Lord to help us to walk in the new life He's given us in Christ. So go ahead and take a minute as we bow our heads to pray to yourself. And at the end, I'm going to lead us in a time of corporate prayer. Father in heaven, thank You that we are set free in Jesus Christ; thank You that we are not our sin anymore, but we are dead to it; and that we are alive, we are alive to You in Christ, that we have new life in You. So, God, I ask that You would help us this day and as we enter a new year in the days ahead, that You would help us to please abide in the truth that we are free; and help us to walk in the newness of life that You have purchased for us by Your blood; and help us to know and experience the peace that comes with being people who are free and made new. Jesus Christ, do this for us and may it be for Your glory, in Your name, amen. 

So that was our first theme, remember God. Our second theme is remember the church. And what we're going to do in this theme is reflect upon who we are called to be in the context of the Body of Christ and how we are to serve our brothers and sisters.

- Paul reminds us of how we're supposed to serve one another anyway. In Galatians chapter five, he says this: "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But don't use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." And do you know that people can even use their giftedness to indulge their flesh? Paul says, that's not the point. The point is serving one another in love. But notice, you're saying to yourself, "Well, man, here's the thing, Jerry, I don't know that I've got gifts. I'm not really sure that I've got any." Listen carefully to me. You do. You're like, "Well, how do I figure 'em out?" Okay, there's resources available. Like, you can go online and take a spiritual gifts test if you want to do that. You can go to our Chapel plus on our website and there's some teaching around there around spiritual gifts if you want to do that. But let me just go ahead and tell you, the best way to do this is a living test, not a written test. You say, "What do you mean by that?" Just start serving. That's how you figure it out. You may start serving and realize, "Nope, God has not gifted me by His grace to do this." And everybody around you might go, "You're right." But you know what? Now you just go serve in another arena. And at some point, everybody's going to go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. God's graced them to be able to do this. God's helped them." Great. That's how we figure it out. So just get serving. Because here's the thing, if you start serving, it helps you figure that out. If you just sit back and try to just be theoretical about it all, nope. I've talked to those people. I've talked to 'em a million times. "I'm a teacher." No, you're not. You're actually not. You want to be because you've got gift envy because this is about you, it's not about the body. "Yeah, but they do this and they do that, and really I want to do that." Why don't you do what Jesus made you to do? Why don't you do what the spirit gifted you to do? Why don't you just do that? It's perfectly fine. He's happy about it. It's good for the body. But you also have to use your experiences as well to serve the body. Not just your giftedness, but your skills and your experiences. In fact, Paul ends his letter, his first letter to Corinth, and then he begins his second letter with that same idea. And here's how he says it in Second Corinthians chapter one, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles," listen to this, "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." Did you catch that? The grace that God has given you to comfort you in your time of trouble, whatever that looks like, it's not just for you, it's for others. God's comforting you, but He's doing it for the sake of other people so that you then can steward that grace that's been given to you to serve the church. So if it's grief, or if it's trial, or if it's difficulty, or if it's cancer, or if it's... Whatever it might be, right? If it's a life circumstance, a marriage circumstance, a relational issue, whatever it may be, as God graces you and heals you and grows you and shows you all that, you steward that because God's going to use it to serve the church.

- Let's remember that we are called into one body together to serve and to love one another. And so in 2024, let's consider how we can actually use our gifts, our time to bless the people in our life that we know because of Jesus. Maybe it's for you a step of getting more deeply plugged into the life of our church in 2024 through a community group or through an outlet of service, where you're able to actually rub shoulders with folks and build relationships with them so that you can learn what your gifts might be, or you can exercise those gifts to bless other people, to encourage them in the faith, and to help them grow in Christ. The Lord Jesus wants to use each member of His Body. We are not in the Body of Christ by accident, and so let's each consider what our role might be in service to the people of God. Let's remember the church. Our final theme for this morning is going to be remember the world. In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus says this: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I'm with you always to the end of the age." Our Lord gave His church a mission to engage in. We are to be about the work of our King in advancing the gospel and making disciples. And so our third, or our final sermon clip is going to cover this third theme of loving the world. And so if you could turn your attention to the screen one last time as we listen to what we have here.

- Maybe you have a little bit of Jonah in you as well. You see, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, one of the things we see is that God's people, Israel, did not want to share the redemptive story with others. We see that in the Old Testament. We see it in the New Testament. We see that there is this divide, this hostile divide between Christians or not Christians, but Jews and Gentile. And Paul even talks about that, that when Christ came, He split that wall of hostility between the two. So there's a wall of hostility between the two. And the Jews wanted no way of sharing that God's redemptive story with anyone. They wanted to hold it to themselves. And I wonder, and I just wonder that if you and me, these Gentile Christians, maybe we have our own Ninevehs that we don't want to share the gospel with; that maybe we have these little Ninevehs in our lives. There's a little Jonah in you that doesn't want to share the gospel, doesn't want to share God's redemptive story with those around you. And you're probably saying to yourself, right? Like, well, let's see. Let me run through 'em. No, I can't think of anyone. Everybody needs the gospel. Hold on before you go there too quickly. Maybe, just maybe your little Nineveh, the little Jonah in you says, the people on the other side of the political aisle are my Nineveh, right? They think differently. They talk differently. They want this, I want that. Maybe the people on the other side of the political aisle are your Nineveh that you would refuse to go share the redemptive story of Jesus Christ with. Maybe your Nineveh might be the homeless people that you see as you drive about town, that you look down at 'em like, "Well, I'm not going to go help them. They're there for a reason. There's something that they must have done that put them in that place right there. So why don't they just pick themselves up by the bootstraps? But no, I'm not going over there. I'm not going to be nice. I'm not going to be kind. I'm not going to be loving. I'm not going to be compassionate. I'm just going to walk by them and just kind of discard them." The Jews and the Gentiles. Maybe the homeless is your Nineveh. Maybe those of a different ethnicity are your Nineveh, right? They look different, they dress different, they talk different. They eat differently than I do. No, because you don't look like me, talk like me, dress like me, walk like me. Maybe someone of a different ethnicity might be the Nineveh that you refuse to share the redemptive story of Jesus Christ with. Maybe your Nineveh is the gal that found herself to be pregnant unexpectedly, and she had an abortion and you're like to her. Maybe that's your Nineveh, that she doesn't deserve to hear the story, the redemptive story. Yes, she deserves to hear that story. Maybe that is your Nineveh, that group of people that might do something like that. Maybe your Nineveh is someone in a different socioeconomic class. You're on this side of the tracks, they're on the other side of the tracks. I don't want to go on the other side of the tracks, leave that alone. I'm not going someplace where I'm not comfortable. Whether it's up or whether it's down. Maybe, maybe, just maybe you're Nineveh are the immigrants that are fleeing another country, that are being tortured, that are being harassed, that are being persecuted for a ton of different reasons. They just want to come to a country where they have a little bit of hope, but maybe your Nineveh says, "We have nothing for you. Go back to where you are. Resolve it over there." Folks, when these things get bad in this country, you will do anything to cross the mighty Niagara to get to Canada. So maybe, just maybe we need to have a heart that God would have to share with those that might be coming to seek hope in their lives. Maybe, just maybe it's the incarcerated, right? They're in prison, who cares about them? And if they get out, they're never going to be redeemed. You just saw a story of redemption, they're getting baptized, so amen to that. But maybe the incarcerated are your Nineveh that you refuse to go to. You're on your own. And maybe, just maybe when the rainbow flag comes out, maybe the LGBTQ community is your Nineveh. You want nothing to do with them, no love, no compassion, no kindness, no willing to hear their story, no willingness to share the redemptive story of Jesus Christ. So folks, I challenge you as I challenge myself. If you've got a little bit of Jonah in you, you gotta get that little bit of Jonah out. There's a redemptive story that God has given us to share with others about His Son Jesus Christ. And loving and kindness with compassion, we are to share that with other people so that we can be the gospel presence in a world where people are worshiping other little G gods, that they would die separated from the true God, the God of the heavens and the earth, the same God that Jonah believed in.

- Well, Pastor Leroy shared with us just there a challenging word, who are the Ninevehs in our own hearts? He challenged us to ask ourselves, who are the people that we are reluctant to be relational with and reluctant to share the gospel with? Perhaps for you, it's a specific person that comes to your mind, or as Pastor Leroy articulate, articulated, excuse me, a specific type of person. Someone in some sort of category or group that you may naturally have animosity toward. And this is something that we should regularly ask ourselves because as people who wrestle with a sin nature, it can be very easy for us to have coldness in our hearts develop towards others. It can be very easy for us to have bitterness well up in our hearts, to hold anger in our hearts towards those that we disagree with. As ambassadors of Jesus, which is what He's called his church to be it is our privilege and responsibility to pursue all peoples with the gospel. Like our Savior who has gone before us, we are to be a friend of sinners. And so that may mean from time to time engaging with folks that are radically unlike us, engaging with groups of people that we would normally not associate with and enduring the difficult person because we want to see them come to faith in Christ. Now, this all takes wisdom and prayer, but we do these things empowered with the love and grace of God. So who could those people be for you? You know, as we think about engaging others with the gospel, one reminder that's helpful for us this morning along these lines is how important regular prayer is for those in our lives that don't know Jesus? You and I can daily engage in the mission of God by praying specifically for the people that we know that don't know Christ, our neighbors, our coworkers. Perhaps that certain category that Pastor Leroy mentioned, perhaps it's writing their names in your Bible to remind you every day or setting an alarm on your phone to remind you, which I do that every day and it's been extremely helpful, because it reminds me once a day to pray for specific people that I've put in my phone. But we can do those things that help us to go before the Lord and ask Him to send the gospel into these people's lives and transform their hearts that they might come to Christ. And as we pray for them, we can continue to pursue relationship with them, with the goal and the hope that we would have ample opportunity to tell them who Jesus is and what He's done and what he's done for us. We are to be a people on mission, engaging in the work of the Lord and abounding in it. So what might that look like for you? You know, we can celebrate corporately as a church the types of things that we got to engage in together in 2023, to engage with those around us that don't know Christ. Some examples are back in May, we did something called the Envelope Challenge, which was a four-week challenge where we were able to engage others and bless them with our time, our service, our treasures, and through prayer. In September, we engaged in our annual serve day, where each campus got to serve their local communities in very tangible ways and foster meaningful relationships with the community, that we could be witnesses for Christ to them. In October, we got to gather with all of our ministry partners, our Kingdom Come partnerships, our local, national, and global partners. And we got to renew our commitment to them that we make through prayer and through giving. In our season of giving just this past November, we collectively, as a church, gave $55,000 toward ministry efforts. And through things like our Christmas Festival and our Christmas Eve service, we had opportunities to invite those outside of Christ into our community to hear the gospel. In 2023, by the grace of God, we were able to eliminate all of our financial debt as a church, so all four of our campuses going forward are completely debt-free. And the goal of that was to free us up in the future, to give generously and to continue to engage in fruitful labor for the sake of Christ. The Lord has been faithful to our church and by His grace, He has used our church to advance the gospel. And by His grace, He has used our church to be a means through which people can encounter and meet Jesus. And we want that to continue, we want that to continue. So as we look forward, let's be people that rely upon His spirit that go before Him in prayer, that depend upon His grace so that together we can advance the gospel in our community and in the globe. Let's give ourselves faithfully to the work of our King. In closing, I want us to look at one last passage of scripture. So look with me at the screen at Ephesians chapter five, verses 15 through 16. "Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." As we think about 2024 and the days ahead, we live in a world that is marked by evil. And as Christ's people, we need to be marked by walking in wisdom and making the most of every opportunity using our time well that the Lord gives us. And so to that end, I want us to spend time together right now in prayer. And so we're going to be working together through a series of prayer prompts, and I'm going to read each prompt, and then that's going to be a cue for you to spend time alone in prayer before the Lord. So the first prayer prompt says this: Lord Jesus, I want to live a life of service. How do You want me to serve You and others with my time, talent, and treasures this upcoming year? So go ahead and take a moment to pray. The next prayer prompt says this: Lord Jesus, how do You want me to be a witness to who You are this upcoming year? So go ahead and take a moment to pray. And the last prayer prompt we're going to do in smaller groups together. And it says this: Lord, empower us as a church to be a worshiping, praying, and generous family of believers who are filled with Your power to be witnesses for Jesus. And what I want us to do here is if you could break up to groups of one or two, gather with the folks around you and have someone pray this out loud to lead your group in prayer. So go ahead and take a minute to do that. So maybe you're here and you have never received Jesus Christ before. This morning, we want to make you abundantly aware that He came for you, He loves you, and He died for you. That we all sin before God. And because of that, we are separated from Him and deserve his judgment and justice. But in great love, the Son of God came into the world and lived a perfect sinless life and died on a cross in our place and for our sins, taking God's judgment for us, and He rose from the dead. And now through faith in Him, we can receive forgiveness of sins, a relationship with God, and a brand new life. And so maybe you're here and that is your need this morning. At the conclusion of our service, after I pray in just a moment, we're going to have some folks at the front of our stage and they would love to have a conversation with you. They would love to pray with you, and they'd love to send you home with a Bible to help you learn a little bit more about what it means to walk with the Lord and know Jesus. So if that's your need, please come and talk to one of us before you leave this morning. Church, if you would just one last time, please bow your heads with me as we close in prayer. Father in heaven, I want to thank You for Your grace to us this day. Thank You for your faithfulness. Thank You for your faithfulness in allowing us to gather regularly and hear the preaching of Your word. And I pray that in 2024, we would be a people who are transformed through the preaching of Your word. Lord, help us to be a people who remember You and remember the gospel regularly. Help us to be people who are deeply and faithfully engaged in the life of the local church and serving others with the gifts You've given us. And empower us to be faithful witnesses for your sake in the world so that you would be glorified in us, Lord, and that we would experience increasing joy in You. So God, to You be the glory and to You be the honor. For yours is the kingdom, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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