Pastor Jon shared a message with the congregation that pertains to the view God has on rest. He explained that we are called to lives filled with rest and offered many scriptural examples that prove this fact. He mentioned that rest is found in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11. The Sabbath day was intended to be a day of rest for animals and humans alike. God also called for a Sabbath year once every seven years and Pastor Jon explained how rest is also important for farmers to receive the most return on the harvest of their crops. He also shared his vision that he believes the church is entering a season of great harvest and that we are called to love others as Christ has loved us. Song of Songs 2:4 states “His banner over me is love.” While this verse is taken from the context of a bride speaking about the love her husband has for her, Pastor Jon explained that lovers will always out work hired hands. John 19:9-12 states: “As the Father loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Pastor Jon concluded his message by explaining that he will be taking a sabbatical this summer with his family to focus on resting. He is encouraged by the leaders within the church and the leaders that will arise during his break from active leadership of the congregation.
Chris spoke on the biblical concept of Baptism. In Acts 2:37-38, Chris drew two issues from the passage. The first: Whether or not baptism is the cause of the forgiveness of our sins. He would say that Jesus is the reason for the forgiveness of our sins. The second issue is when Peter says “in the name of Christ”. Chris asked the question if baptism is meant to be a formula. Northgate believes that it is not meant to be seen as a formula. It is important to note that it is our conviction that we would say “in the name of father, son, and holy spirit” just as Jesus did in Matthew 28. However, this is not meant to be a formula either. It was here that he first illustrated the relationship that baptism has to marriage. He gave the example of his own wedding, in addition to a friend of his. Where the ceremony and paperwork didn't go as planned. He questioned if that meant both he and his friend weren’t technically married. The significance of marriage is in the ceremony, not what is said or forgotten to be said. He also claimed that although baptism isn’t necessary for the forgiveness of our sins it doesn’t mean it is optional. Baptism is a way for us to say “yes” to Jesus’s hand in marriage. Diving into the water represents the tombstone, or dying to your old self. When we are raised from the water it is the birth certificate to your new self.
Pastor Jon shared a message about the fact that we, as a body of believers, are better together. He explained various events in the Bible from Exodus through Revelation to explain God’s divine provision for those who proclaim the name of Jesus. He showed a moving video that displayed the courageous actions of a Buffalo police officer who saved the life of a one year old who was unconscious and unable to breathe. The police officer mentioned that he reached a point where there was nothing he could do for the child based on his own merits or accolades, but he called on the name of Jesus and the child was miraculously saved. He also gave glory to God during a recent council meeting. Pastor Jon explained that our trials and tribulations offer us an opportunity to glorify God through our struggles, trusting in Him to provide us with victories in our lives. He also explained how there have been numerous prayers that have been extended over the city of Buffalo over the past decades and offered encouragement through 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Jim who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Pastor Jon concluded his message with encouragement to those who are struggling with a difficult season or situation in their lives. He explained the power of the cross and of calling out the name of Jesus in a powerful way.
Pastor Jon introduced the second sermon as a follow up to last week’s message, “We’re Better Together.” He began his message by explaining a relationship he developed at college with a janitor by the name of Keith. Pastor Jon emphasized the fact that this janitor always had a positive outlook on life and used the skills that God blessed him with to have a profound influence on the lives of students on Pastor Jon’s campus. He explained that even though the janitor didn’t have the highest profile or highest paying job, that didn’t prevent him from showing God’s glory everywhere he went. He also shared that often times when we are going through times of struggle; it helps to lift up the name of God in praise, much like David did in many of the Psalms. Pastor Jon offered Psalm 135:1-4 as an example: “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; Praise Him, O you servants of the Lord! You who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant. For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.” Pastor Jon concluded his message with an emphasis on four key points. First, we have an identity in Christ, we are God’s treasure and are called to be people of praise and worship. Second, our identity is found in Christ alone. Jacob, who identified himself as a deceiver, became Israel which means: "Prince with God". Third, worshiping God requires us to let go of our idols. Lastly, "we become like that which we worship" (see Psalm 135:15-18). Jon shared a progression which helps us to reflect the glory of God. Start with thanksgiving, then move into praise and finally worship. In this way, rather than becoming like the idols in this world, we begin to reflect the glory of God and become more like Him.