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Elder Mike Gowens' 1/13/19 sermon looks at an expression in Exodus 19:6 in which God's people are identified as "a kingdom of priests." Gowens insists that maintaining the balance between the personal privilege of approaching God as a priest and the corporate responsibility of living together with other believers in a kingdom is critical to healthy church life. Understanding the priesthood of each believer challenges the dangerous extreme of clericalism. Understanding the community nature of the kingdom of God curbs the kind of unaccountable extremes that are so prevalent today among religious mavericks who tend to strike out on their own apart from the fellowship of the church. 

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On the first Sunday of 2019 (1/6/19), Michael Gowens looks at 1 Corinthians 5:17-21 in a message on the ultimate "new beginning." If the new year will be happy and productive to us as God's people, it is important that we live lives consistent with the new nature that God has implanted in our hearts. Otherwise, we will simply repeat the sins and errors of the kind of people we were before grace made us new.

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On the last Sunday of 2018 (12/30), Elder Mike Gowens looks at John 13:1: "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." This verse is a kind of theme for the unfolding sequence of events revealed in the narrative recorded in John 13-17. The setting is the upper room and the atmosphere is one of tension, bewilderment and uncertainty about the future. Against the dark background of the disciples' weakness, however, the unchanging and undaunted love of Christ is on full display. As we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another, no theme is more sublime and important than the love of Jesus for his own.

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Gifts Fit for a King

Elder Michael Gowens' 12/23/18 sermon considers the visit of the Magi and the gifts they brought to the newborn King, as recorded in Matthew 2:1-11. Who were these "wise men"? What was the significance of the gifts they presented to the infant Messiah? Gowens attempts to answer these questions and more in this 51 minute message delivered to the congregation of Bethel PBC on the Sunday before Christmas.

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The Christian gospel is not a message of human ascent to God but of Divine descent to man. In this 12/16/18 sermon, Elder Mike Gowens looks at Philippians 2:5-11, one of the premier Christological passages of the New Testament. Why is the state of Christ's humiliation so important? What exactly did the self-humbling of Christ entail? Just how far down the ladder of humiliation did he descend? It is only as one begins to understand just how much He gave up to save His people from their sins that the true meaning of the incarnation and the cross come into focus. 

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Elder Mike Gowens' 12/2/18 sermon looks at an interesting sentence in Isaiah 41:20 as he continues thoughts introduced last week concerning the Providence of God. The biblical narratives of Moses' birth and Joseph's rise to a position of prominence illustrate the fact that God moves in this world in mysterious ways. Happy is the individual who has learned to recognize when God is at work and to give him the glory for His wise and gracious providential care.

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God’s Unseen Hand

In this 11/25/18 sermon from the book of Esther, Elder Michael Gowens highlights the comforting theme of Divine Providence. The message begins with a reading from Esther 6:1-11. This book is distinguished as one of only two books in the canon of Scripture that never once mentions the name of God. But though the name of God is conspicuous by its absence in these pages, the hand of God is at work throughout the narrative. Even so, in our lives, we may not see overt evidence of God's activity, but He is present nonetheless, "standing somewhere in the shadows, keeping watch above His own." Esther reminds us that when God is silent, He is still there, and He is at work.

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On Sunday, 11/18/18, Michael Gowens brought a Thanksgiving message from Psalm 95. The people of God have much for which to praise God in thankful song. When they assemble together in corporate worship, the Lord himself inhabits their praises. Nothing is so soul-cheering and faith-building as the privilege of collective worship with the church.

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The Baptism of Jesus

In this 11/11/18 sermon from Matthew 3:13-17, Elder Michael Gowens considers the narrative concerning the baptism of Jesus Christ. He explains that Jesus was motivated to seek baptism from John the Baptist for three primary reasons: (1) to identify himself with sinners, though Jesus himself needed no repentance; (2) to satisfy every demand of God's righteous law in the stead of His elect; (3) to inaugurate the kingdom of God. The baptism of Christ both depicts the drama of redemption and marks the beginning of the gospel church. It was also the earliest demonstration of Jesus' deity during his public ministry.

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Elder Mike Gowens' sermon on 11/4/18 focuses on the departing Savior's encouraging promise to send the Holy Spirit, recorded in John 14:15-18. One of the distinguishing marks between the church and the world is our understanding that reality consists of more than meets the eye. A mysterious, unseen Person is at work in our lives, leading, enabling, strengthening, comforting and teaching us. The reality of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's people is a powerful encouragement while we wait for Jesus to return.

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