Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When the Sermon Wasn't for You

Sometimes, especially with a topical sermon, we are tempted individually to think that “this sermon wasn’t for me.”  While you may not have children in school at this time, I did pray in preparation for you that you would hear and see from the texts other applications particularly for you.  And there are many.

One of those applications is in coming to this Table.  We are not a bunch of individuals only, like so many marbles gathered in a bag.  We are members of one body, the body of Christ – and we come to this Table as that one body, that one loaf, where we partake together, desiring to see Christ minister to His body corporately even as He meets each one of us individually as well.  Strengthening each one, he then sends us to minister to one another throughout the week with our particular gifts and abilities and our brother or sister’s needs before us.

If you are identified with Jesus through baptism then must come to this Table and partake, for He has called you.  But He has called the person next to you as well with the same call.  Together, we all are being fed, knit together in Christ, with Christ, and by Christ.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Steadfast, Immovable Worship

With a right understanding of death and the problems of this world because of sin, along with a right understanding of what the hope of the resurrection really means for us, Paul wrote at the end of 1 Corinthians these words –
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Our labor is never in vain if God is in the business of saving this world – and He is.  Our labor is never in vain if it is in the Lord because the Lord rules over heaven and earth now.  One author noted that “English evangelicals gave up believing in the urgent imperative to improve society (such as we find with William Wilberforce in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) about the same time that they gave up believing robustly in resurrection and settled for a disembodied heaven instead.” (NT Wright).

Brothers and sisters, you are not being summoned here to worship a God who rules in heaven and has called us here to remind us that one day we will finally go home to be with Him, away from this terrible place called the world.  No – that is not the Christian doctrine.  God so loved the world – this world – that He gave His only begotten Son – and He did so in order that the world – this world – should be saved.

You are summoned here to worship a God who rules over heaven and earth and is shaking the things of this earth that He intends to bring down in order that the things which cannot be shaken, His kingdom, would remain forever.  Even if we are going to die, even if our labors appear to be accomplishing so little – nevertheless hear the Word of God:  Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing (knowing) that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  Come and let us worship the Lord.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Platonic Opium

"Karl Marx famously spoke of religion as the opium of the people.  He supposed that oppressive rulers would use the promise of a joyful future life to try to stop the masses from rising in revolt.  That has indeed often been the case.  But my impression is that religion is an 'opium' when the religion in question includes the Platonic downgrading of bodies and of the created order in general, regarding them as the 'vain shadows' of earth, which we happily leave behind at death.  Why try to improve the present prison if release is at hand?  Why oil the wheels of a machine that will soon plunge over a cliff?  That is precisely the effect created to this day by some devout Christians who genuinely believe that "salvation" has nothing to do with the way the present world is ordered." - Wright, SBH - p26

Thursday, August 25, 2016

About to Sing Psalm 29

Many of you do not remember – and many of you were not here, when we took the time to learn to sing this version of Psalm 122.  It was not easy.  We had to work.  But when we, as a congregation together, found ourselves able to sing it, we delighted in it, we delighted in our ability to sing to the LORD with greater skillfulness – and we thought about, I preached about, the meaning of this Psalm.  It is worth considering.  It sings of calling everyone to come here, to the house and gathering of the LORD, to see His beauty and the beauty of His temple of whom we are. 

Now you have heard the choir sing Psalm 29 in a through-composed form.  We have sent you links to listen to it, we have practiced it in numerous Psalm sings.  Here we go.  Another challenging piece.  We will be singing it as a congregation shortly in this service of worship – and God will be listening.

Hope you are up to it.

Seriously, as we venture into singing another Psalm (although we have one version of Psalm 29 that we sing), let me help us all come before the LORD with what this Psalm is declaring.

It commands the world and especially all the mighty ones to give glory to the Lord – to lay down their weapons of unbelief and strife and give themselves to God in humble service and worship.  It declares mighty, violent work of the voice of the LORD in powerful pictures - full of majesty, passing over forests, splitting the tallest cedars and mountains, skipping to the strobe-light of the lightning, and then down into the deserts, terrifying the wildlife and shaking the wilderness.  The voice of the LORD is heard seven times in this Psalm – a number of fullness and completion.  We are singing of the triumphant, salvific work of the Word of God over all nations, over all the earth.  You are about to sing of the victory of God over everything, everyone – to the glory of His name.  Get ready…