God’s Grand Purpose for the Universe

READ/LISTEN:  Colossians

As you prepare for worship this week, try listening to the book of Colossians rather than reading through it.  That’s right! You can listen to the entire book as it is read to you on the Bible Gateway website by following this link:  

You can also listen to it through the Dwell app. You can download and use it for free during North Wake’s free trial.  Follow this link:

As you listen, note everything you hear about God’s grand purpose for the world.

The Implications of the Resurrection

READ: Matthew 27:45-28:10

What does it mean to “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”? Satan believes that God raised Jesus from the dead. He saw it happen. To answer this question, we need to ponder what the resurrection means for God’s people.

The meaning of the resurrection is that God is for us. He aims to close ranks with us. He aims to overcome all our sense of abandonment and alienation.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration to Israel and to the world that we cannot work our way to glory, but that he intends to do the impossible to get us there.

The resurrection is the promise of God that all who trust Jesus will be the beneficiaries of God’s power to lead us in paths of righteousness and through the valley of death.

Therefore, believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for you, that he has closed ranks with you, that he is transforming your life, and that he will save you for eternal joy.

Believing in the resurrection means trusting in all the promises of life and hope and righteousness for which it stands.

It means being so confident of God’s power and love that no fear of worldly loss or greed for worldly gain will lure us to disobey his will.

That’s the difference between Satan and the saints. Oh, might God circumcise our hearts to love him (Deuteronomy 30:6) and to rest in the resurrection of his Son.

Written by John Piper.  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-the-resurrection-means-for-us

North Wake Living Room

I’m excited to invite you to a series of informal gatherings just to hang out with our leaders and get better acquainted with them and they with you! 

Our church family is just large enough that getting to know one another can be a bit of a challenge. Mix in a pandemic and it gets even more complicated! It’s my hope that everyone who calls North Wake home would have a connection to at least one of our leaders so that if you had a question or a need, you’d be comfortable giving them a call. Enter Stephanie Joyner and her NW Ministry Intensive project – “The North Wake Living Room.”

If you know Stephanie, you know she is an avid conversationalist! And she is eager to spread that joy throughout our church family by creating space for conversations with our leaders that will often take place – you guessed it – in our living rooms! The information included in this little booklet will explain the importance of these kinds of conversations among our church family along with why we want you there. We hope you‘ll find it a source of encouragement. 

We can’t wait to have you over to our living room!

Take Up Your Cross

READ: Luke 9:18-26

Adapted from “A Call to Die” by David Nasser (pp. 13 &  18)

Jesus’ words were unmistakable — and brutal — to his disciples. They knew what crosses were. No, they weren’t silver charms worn on necklaces. They weren’t the designs in tattoo parlors. The cross was an instrument of execution, one of the most violent and horrible ever invented by evil men. I can imagine the disciples gasping when Jesus uttered those words in the Matthew 16:24. If we fully comprehend them, we will gasp, too.

But before we get to the cross, let’s understand some things. Jesus begins this statement with a tiny but important word: if. He doesn’t take it for granted that you and I will be willing to follow him along his path of radical obedience to the Father.  Jesus is no bully. He doesn’t try to get us to pack our bags for a guilt trip. No, he simply offers that path with all its hardship and joys and says, “If you want the greatest adventure life has to offer, here’s what the ticket will cost you.” Quite frankly, the vast majority of Christians look at the brochure and say, “No thanks. The price is too high. I’ll settle for something else.” Only a few are willing to say, “Yes, Jesus. I want to go where you go.” Fewer still stay on board for the whole journey. Jesus makes the offer, and he leads each of us in deciding what we want to do.  The question isn’t, “Do you do what you want to do?” but “Do you do what he wants you to do?” In this lies the opportunity to die. …

Years ago, a young, uneducated man in Chicago named Dwight Moody heard a preacher challenge his audience: “The world has yet to see what God will do through one man whose heart is completely his.” Moody responded instantly, “Lord, I want to be that man!” Over the course of the next few decades, God used Moody to lead thousands of people to Christ, to begin a Bible College, and to launch a missions’ movement that eventually sent over 30,000 young men and women to parts of the globe that had never heard of Jesus or had even seen a foreigner. Moody was committed to his heart being the sole and complete property of Jesus Christ. God poured out his Spirit on him.

How would you respond to that preacher’s question today? Do you want to be that man or that women?

Strength and Contentment in All Things

READ: Philippians 4:10-13

Adapted from Every Moment Holy, by Douglas McKelvey.  p. 228-230.

CHRISTIAN:  I come to you, O Christ,
in dismay, fearing I might fail
in what is now before me.

if you would truly serve your Maker,
in whatever capacity or vacation,
is it not necessary for your own good,
and for the good of the kingdom of God,
that you would sometimes be met
with such fear and dismay?

CHRISTIAN:  But how could such a besetting fear ever
be for my good, or for the good of
God’s eternal kingdom?

FELLOW BELIEVER:  Under the Spirit’s tutelage, such fears
might become messengers of grace,
revealing to you only what was true all along:

in yourself you do not have the strength
or the wisdom or the ability
to accomplish the task
to which you are called.
Apart from the Spirit of God breathing life
into your incomplete and sin-tainted efforts,
apart from the Father blessing and 
your inadequate offerings,
apart form your Lord meeting you
in you stumbling attempts at faithfulness,
no good work will come to fruition,
no achievement will endure,
no lasting benefit will come of your labors.

And so you must come repeatedly
to the end of trust in your won strength,
child, that you might avail yourself
again and again of his strength.

CHRISTIAN:  Then let my fears of failure drive me,
O Lord, to collapse here upon your 
strong shoulders, and here to rest,
reminded again that I and all of your
children are always utterly dependent upon 
you to bring to completion, in and through
us, the good works which you have prepared
before hand for us to do.  It is not my own
work that is before me now, but yours!

FELLOW BELIEVER:  Indeed Christian, take heart in this revelation!
The outcomes of your labors were never in your 
hands, but in God’s.  You have but one task:
to be faithful.

The success of your endeavors is not yours to
judge.  He works in ways that you cannot comprehend.
And in his economy, there will be no waste.
Even what you judge as failure, God will
tool to greater purpose.

You can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength.

Remember Mercy

READ: Matthew 18:21-35

Written by Paul David Tripp.  New Morning Mercies, March 1.

We all do it, probably every day.  We have no idea that we’re doing it, yet it has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others.  It is one of the reasons there is so much relational trouble even in the house of God.  What is this thing that we all tend to do that causes so much harm?  We all forget.  In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by mercy.  The fact that God has blessed us with his favor when we deserved his wrath fades from our memories like a song whose lyrics we once knew but now cannot recall.  The reality that on every morning brand-new mercy greets us is not the thing that grips our minds as we frenetically prepare for our day.  When we lay our exhausted heads down at the end of the day for much needed sleep, we often fail to look back on the many mercies that dripped from God’s hands onto our little lives.  We don’t often take time to sit and meditate on what our lives would’ve been like if the mercy of the Redeemer had not been written into our personal stories.  Sadly, we all tend to be way too mercy-forgetful.

Mercy-forgetfulness is dangerous, because it shapes the way you think about yourself and others.  When you remember mercy, you also remember that you simply did  nothing whatsoever to earn that with which mercy has blessed you.  When you remember mercy, you are humble, thankful, and tender.  When you remember mercy, complaining gives way to gratitude and self-focused desire gives way to worship.  But when you forget mercy, you proudly tell yourself that what you have is what you’ve achieved.  When you forget mercy, you take credit for what only mercy could produce.  When you forget mercy, you name yourself as righteous and deserving, and you live an entitled and demanding life.

When you forget mercy and think you’re deserving, you find it all too easy not to extend mercy to others.  Proudly, you think that you’re getting what you deserve and that they are, too.  Your proud heart is not tender, so it is not easily moved by the sorry plight of others.  You forget that you are more like than unlike your needy brother, failing to acknowledge that neither of you stands before God as deserving.  Humility is the soil in which mercy for others grows.  Gratitude for mercy given is what motivates mercy extended.  Paul says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

Who, Me a Servant? You Gotta Be Kidding!

READJohn 13:1-20

Written by Charles R. Swindoll from “Improving Your Serve” chapt. 1.

Maybe you’ve never before stopped to consider that God is committed to one major objective in the lives of all His people: to conform us to “the image of His Son.” We need to blow the dust off that timeless goal now that our cage is overcrowded and our lives are growing increasingly more distant from each other.

Exactly what does our heavenly Father want to develop within us? What is that “image of His Son”? Well, rather than getting neck deep in tricky theological waters, I believe the simple answer is found in Christ’s own words. Listen as He declares His primary reason for coming:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:24).

No mumbo jumbo. Just a straight-from-the-shoulder admission. He came to serve and to give. It makes sense, then, to say that God desires the same for us. After bringing us into His family through faith in His Son, the Lord God sets His sights on building into us the same quality that made Jesus distinct from all others in His day. He is engaged in building into His people the same serving and giving qualities that characterized His Son.

Nothing is more refreshing than a servant’s heart and a giving spirit, especially when we see them displayed in a person many would tag as a celebrity. A couple of years ago my wife and I attended the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Washington, D.C., where one of the main speakers was Colonel James B. Irwin, former astronaut who was a part of the crew that had made the successful moon walk. He spoke of the thrill connected with leaving this planet and seeing it shrink in size. He mentioned watching earth rise one day … and thinking how privileged he was to be a member of the at unique crew. And then he began to realize en route back home that many would consider him a “superstar,” for sure an international celebrity.

Humbled by the awesome goodness of God, Colonel Irwin shared his true feelings, which went something like this:

As I was returning to earth, I realized that I was a servant — not a celebrity. So I am here as God’s servant on plant Earth to share what I have experienced that others might know the glory of God.

God allowed this man to break loose from the small cage we call “Earth,” during which time He revealed to him a basic motto all of us would do well to learn: a servant, not a celebrity.

Questions About Confession

The practice of confession brings up several practical questions such as “when should I confess only to God vs. confess to another Christian?” or “How specific should I be when confessing past sin”?  Here are five resources to encourage you in the discipline of confession as we embrace the joy, freedom, and fellowship with Christ that comes from “living in the light.”

  1. The Examen  — This brief outline provides you a framework to end your day in God’s presence. Use this (print it off, leave it beside your bed!) to build a daily habit of giving thanks, confessing sin, and receiving God’s love anew. 
  2. Disclose or Be Exposed  — This short article by Ed Welch provides a brief and powerful rationale for confessing sin.
  3. How Specific Should I Be in Confessing Sin?  — This is a short podcast episode from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. The discussion is in response to a listener’s question: “How detailed should a person be in confessing past sins? For instance, with the person you’re planning on dating or marrying, how specific should you be? Or, for past sins that don’t persist and don’t appear to have any residual consequences?”
  4. How Specific Should a Husband Be in Confessing Lust to His Wife?  — In this brief video, David Powlison discusses confessing lust in marriage with honesty and wisdom.
  5. How Important Is It to Confess My Sins to Someone Other Than God?  — Pastor John Piper answers this question (read the article or listen to the audio).

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
But if they confess and turn from them,
they will receive mercy
 – Proverbs 28:13

Confession And a Cry For Change

Written by Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies. July 20.

I want to refer you right now to one of the Bible’s best-known prayers of confession.  The problem is that it’s so familiar to most of us that we’ve quit giving it the examination that it requires in order for us to receive from it the rescue that it offers.  The confession is David’s in Psalm 51:1-12

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Look carefully at the words of David’s prayer.  This is not only a prayer of confession – it is also a cry for change.  He admits that his problem is not environmental, but natal; he came into the world with it.  He confesses that his problem is not external, but internal; it’s a problem of the “inward being.”  So he cries out for what every sinner needs:  a new heart.  It is something only God can create.  It is the epicenter of his work of grace.  He wants more than reformed behavior, he sent his Son to die for you so that you would have a new heart, one that is constantly being renewed.  If you heart is your problem, then the grace of heart change is your only hope.