Year-End Review (2023 edition)

Pastor Craig likes to end the year with a review of all of the sermon series we had during the year. Check out this 2023 edition. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to find the video to watch the full sermon.

The apostle Peter said he wrote two letters to the church “as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” (2 Peter 3:1). And Paul reminded his young friend Timothy to “keep reminding [your congregation] of these things” (2 Timothy 2:14). 

In the spirit of those great apostles, I have made it a practice to take time at the end of each year to look back on all that we have learned in the previous year, and then to look forward to where God may be leading Calvary Assembly of God in this upcoming year.

Clicking on each series title will take you to a list of all of the sermons in that series. 

Intimate Conversation—The dictionary defines the word “intimate” with these phrases: associated in close personal relations, characterized by warm friendship, and closely personal. These words perfectly describe the relationship God wants to have with His children through prayer. Pete Briscoe said, “Prayer is an intimate conversation with the One who passionately loves you and lives in you.” The One who loves you so passionately desires to walk with you and share intimate knowledge with you. Prayer is not something formal, cold, or mechanical, but it is vibrant, warm, engaging, and life-changing.

A Christian’s Mental Health—I don’t think there is any arguing that Jesus was the healthiest individual who ever walked planet Earth. Some may want to push back with, “Of course He was because He didn’t have any problems to deal with!” But the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus experienced everything you and I will ever experience (Hebrews 2:17), so His deity didn’t exclude Him from the stressors that His humanity would have to face. And yet, He handled all of these things successfully. Luke the physician observed the growth of Jesus and tells us that it all began with Jesus having a robust mental health. From that foundation, everything else—physical, spiritual, relational—all could develop properly. We must learn from this example and pay careful attention to our own mental health.

Bold Claims—“That’s a pretty bold claim. Are you prepared to back that up?” I’ll bet you have heard something like that said to you, and maybe you have even said that yourself to someone else who made a big, audacious statement. After Jesus is arrested by the religious leaders—an arrest that will ultimately lead to Jesus being crucified on the Cross—there are some incredibly bold claims spoken by key people in this part of the Story. For the most part, these are claims that we don’t read earlier in any of the Gospels, but as this story is heading toward its most crucial moment, we have these audacious statements pronounced. But here’s the most important part: These bold claims weren’t just made, but they were backed up with proof as well.

We Are: Pentecostal—Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost that came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. 

Ascending—Every year, Jews from around the world made four pilgrimages up to Jerusalem for various feasts and sacrifices. These journeys reminded them of God’s goodness as they went to the Temple to worship, and they helped refocus on God’s ways as they returned to their regular routines. Jerusalem is over 2500 feet above sea level, so the pilgrimage there was a physical workout as well as a spiritual workout. These workouts were beneficial for God’s people, preparing them to minister in their cities in the following months. The Book of Psalms contains 15 songs that these pilgrims would sing to and with each other as they traveled up to Jerusalem. These Psalms of Ascent are still instructive for Christians today.

Saints Together—Throughout the New Testament the word “saints” is always in the plural form. This is a clear indication that none of us can develop into the full-fledged Christians we were meant to be on our own. We all need each other. More specifically, we all need the most mature version of each other. A key component of an individual saint’s development is the time spent alone being forged by the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Maturing saints then come together with each other to continue to strengthen and sharpen everyone in the church. Strong individual saints make a strong church, and a strong church makes strong individual saints! Let’s learn about six important spiritual disciplines that each individual saint must put into practice so that they can use their newly developed strengths to help other saints in their own development. 

The Great Attitude Of Gratitude—There’s something about gratitude that distinguishes people. Think about it: would you rather hang around with grumblers or grateful people? The gratitude of Paul and Silas certainly made them stand out from the crowd when they were in Philippi. Wrongly accused, beaten, and thrown in prison, but instead of bellyaching, they were praising God. Later on, when Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the theme of gratefulness permeates his letter. The distinguishing mark is actually in the title: The GReat ATTITUDE spells out GRATITUDE!

Long Live The King Of Kings—Throughout human history, whenever a king died, the people would say something like, “The king is dead. Long live the king!” They would say this because the next king ascended to the throne immediately after his predecessor died. Except when a nation had been defeated, the cry, “The king is dead” was unanswered by, “Long live the king!” Israel must have felt like this. After being defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and spending 70 years in exile, it appeared to many that the line of kings was broken. Even after retuning to their homeland, Israel continued to live under the thumb of other powerful nations. And yet, some still clung to the glimmer of the promise God had made about an eternal King sitting on Jerusalem’s throne. The First Advent of Jesus revealed to us in the Gospels reassures us that the promise of an eternal King is true. Jesus came to earth to reveal His majesty to us. The First Advent is so important because it bolsters our faith for the imminent Second Advent when Jesus will return as the King of kings! Christmas is a great time to be reminded that even now we can confidently declare, “Long live the eternal King of kings!”

2024 promises to be an exciting year! If you don’t have a home church in the northern Kent County area, we would love to have you join us!