Sermon Series: You Belong Here 

 August 6, 2023 – Week 1: Growing in Love 

A new sermon series begins this week – You Belong Here. Remember the the nursery rhyme…”Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the door and see all the people.” You probably even remember the hand motions that go along with it, don’t you? I can see a little girl from church wiggling her one of those fingers as she exclaims, “And there’s Jimmy!” Precious! Each Sunday I look out at “all the people” and am reminded the church has all kinds of people filling its sacred worship spaces. People seeking a place to find community and connection with friends. There are people here facing various struggles and people seeking to grow spiritually. All of us share a common journey – to become more like Jesus in the way we live and love. This Sunday may you be counted among the people who find a place of welcome and belonging here at Clinton First. And invite a friend to join you!


1 John 4:7-12

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

God Is Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.

August 13, 2023 – Week 2: Healing through Grief and Lament

Sermon Series: You Belong Here – Text: Psalm 42

“How is it with your soul?” I have found myself asking that question in a lot of different settings over the last few months. Transitions in life are hard. Grief is hard. Change is hard. All of these things can leaving us with a lot of feelings swirling inside of us. We even ask, “Where are you God?” I ask you to take a moment to pause right now and reflect on these questions for yourself. “How are you doing? What are you feeling? How are you experiencing God right now?”

The Bible has a lot to say about grief and lament, especially the Psalms – the Bible’s song and prayer book. They help us give voice to what we are feeling on the inside. This Sunday we will enter into the space of lament in the hope of growing in greater awareness of ourselves and discovering the healing grace of Christ, our Savior. If you have been experiencing feelings of grief and loss, you belong here, and you are not alone!


Psalm 42

Longing for God and His Help in Distress
To the leader. A Maskil of the Korahites.
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
    the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me continually,
    “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng[a]
    and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
    a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my help 6     and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
    at the thunder of your torrents;
all your waves and your billows
    have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
    because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
    “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God. 

August 20, 2023 – Week 3: Resisting Temptation

Lately, I have found myself facing a daily struggle. What will I eat for lunch today? I know it sounds so trivial. I could schedule a lunch meeting at some new place in town that I haven’t eaten at yet, or I could go home and eat a salad and tuna? It’s really hard to chose the right thing, which for me would be the healthier options at home. It would save me money and help me avoid overloading on carbs and the afternoon slump. Somedays it is easier than others to do the right thing. What about you? Are there any daily struggles in your life right now? Are you having a hard time choosing the right thing?

Every person faces a daily struggle to live their best life. Each day Christians face the spiritual reality of what the Bible calls “temptation.” Temptation is the reality of living in a fallen world where the enemy wants to use sin to separate us from God and his best life for us. We can choose the path of temptation that leads to suffering and pain, or we can commit to the path the Lord provides that fills us with abundant life and enables us to live and love more like Jesus daily. If you are facing daily struggles with temptation, you are not alone! You belong here. The church is a place we can learn to hold our temptations in check and find the grace that leads us transformation and freedom.


James 1:12-18

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Trial and Temptation
12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord[a] has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when desire has conceived, it engenders sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters. 17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[b] 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave birth to us by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.


August 27, 2023 -Week 4: Prayer and Fasting

Prayer permeates the book of Acts and although we often think of prayer as a personal activity, Acts shows the early church praying together regularly. We will begin an intentional season of 30 days of prayer and fasting on Sunday September 3rd. My challenge to you is to take these 30 days to intentionally sacrifice and seek God’s vision for your personal life and our church life. This Sunday in worship I will walk you through some of the Bible’s teaching around seasons of corporate prayer and fasting to equip you to take this step of faith with me.

Look at these examples of corporate prayer in Acts and reflect on what they teach you about praying with others: 

Acts 4:23-32

The Believers Pray
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.[a]’[b]
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Believers Share Their Possessions
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.