Genesis 1 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Chaos to Creation

Genesis 1:1-2:3

INTRO

-Why are we studying Genesis? 

-Serves as the foundation for the rest of the Bible and our lives. If we understand the purpose/reasons/rational behind the beginning of the book, the rest of the book will start to make sense

-Imagery/ideas that are begun in the Genesis will see fully fleshed out in Revelation

-There has been a lot of ink spilled on how to interpret Genesis, fun stuff worth discussing, but not what we’re going to be focusing on through our study

-These chapters deal with so many of the issues we’re facing today: what does it mean to be human? Who is God? Why do bad things happen? Where did things go wrong? How did we get here? How are the 2 sexes supposed to interact with each other?

-What I would like to propose to you as the purpose of the Bible from beginning to end is: worship. Genesis 1 is meant to demonstrate why God is superior to all the other false gods people have created, we’ll see that explicitly on day 4, thus God alone is worthy to be worshipped, praised, and glorified.

READ/PRAY

-We are storied beings. All of us have a story we use to frame everything that takes place around us.

-How do you think of yourself? You are a product of your story! You’re the athletic one, you’re the smart one, you’re the musician, you’re the finance guy, the boss mom, whatever it is, all of us have built up some kind of narrative in our minds about who we are why we’re the way we are.

-I think the most obvious example of this is spending time with your family! Don’t you have a tendency to revert back to how you were in high school? Same issues come up, same jokes are told, same stories are brought back to life

-That’s just a little example, think of how stories have affected cultures: George Washington chopped down a cherry try “I cannot tell a lie.” Columbus: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Who “discovered” America? Weren’t there already people here?

-Founding of the city of Rome: Romulus and twin brother Remus founded Rome on the site where they were suckled by a wolf as orphans.

-Out of the competing stories that were enacting and affecting the cultures around them comes the one true story.

-By referring to the Bible and this narrative as a story, does not mean it’s untrue! I wholeheartedly believe the events recorded here actually happened! Just as much as I believe the story that I was born on October 12, 1988 in Lake Forest hospital, just outside of Chicago-land. I don’t remember it, I know I’m here, I know that’s my story, I believe it to be true, just as I believe the events written down by Moses here in Genesis 1 are a true account of what happened.

-With that said, nothing explicit in this text to tell us who the author of Genesis is: tradition tells us Moses wrote the first 5 books of the OT (Pentateuch) and I haven’t seen an argument to convince me otherwise! As Heb. 1:1 reminds us “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” One of those prophets was Moses!

-Over these next 3 weeks as we look at the beginning, I want to remind us what we in the EFCA believe regarding the beginning. We’ll come back to it again, so you don’t need to memorize this, but this is what our SOF says.

  1. In the Beginning (1-2)

-Verse 1 serves as the title to this whole book (Genesis is the Greek transliteration of “beginning”), verse 2 tells the background of what’s going on, and when we get to verse 3 that begins the narrative telling what God did.

-It’s important to note how carefully crafted this first section is. Verse 1 has 7 words, verse 2 has 7×2 words. God is mentioned 7×5 times. In this context, 7 refers to completion/perfection.

-This verse has some profound theological truths that I want us to realize:

-In the beginning. There was a time when there wasn’t anything. God has no beginning or end, that just blows my mind, because all of us have a beginning, but no end. It almost feels like “once upon a time,” but this one is telling us how everything came to be.

-God. The subject, the main part, the focus of these first 7 words (in Hebrew) is Elohim-God. What is the first thing we learn about God?

-created. This Hebrew word means “making something new.” New City Catechism Question 2: What is God? God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

-All these things are deep, rich theological truths from just the first verse!

-Need to talk about the first rule of hermeneutics: the text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean when it was originally written. There is meaning, purpose, and intent to the words of the text. Always, always, always begin with the meaning to the original audience.

-Space travel wasn’t a “thing,” very limited in their scope of planet earth, so when we come across words like “heavens and earth.” We generally think of the 8 planets (RIP Pluto), stars, galaxies, and a big blue ball spinning around the sun. When the original audience heard these 2 words they thought: sky and land. Sky is everything above, land is everything below. They weren’t dumb, they just didn’t have the same grasp of some of these things we’re blessed to witness today.

-Similarly, vs. 2 uses some words they would understand differently than we do: without form, void, darkness, deep all refer to nothingness. Similarly the “waters” is the primordial state before anything came about.

-“Spirit of God” this word translated spirit is fascinating throughout the Bible: breath, wind, spirit. Remember this idea when we get to the flood which is going to serve as a new creation, God causes a ruach to blow over the earth and blow away the waters. This finds its ultimate fulfillment at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:2 the sound of a mighty rushing wind. God’s final act of recreation was finally here! 

  • God Said (3-31)

-“God said” is repeated 10 times in this section, pointing to another 10 times God would lay the rules by which His people are meant to operate in the 10 commandments. 

-The theme of “separating”: light from dark, water from water, water from land

-Repeated phrasing, “God said” begins each day, “And there was evening and there was morning” ends each day.

-Days 1-3 are creation of the different areas, days 4-6 are the filling of those same domains (we’ll see that as we walk through)

Day 1 – Light

-Light is created to contrast to the darkness that pervaded this primordial world

-This begins a theme throughout the whole rest of the Bible: light is good, darkness is bad. John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

-Notice how easy this is. God says something, it automatically happens. Contrast that with some other competing stories of how the world came to be:

-Babylonian account of creation: Marduk kills the goddess Tiamat (the salty sea) and uses her carcass to fashion heaven and earth

-Other ANE accounts talk about the gods being stressed by work, so humans are created to bear the weight of their working.

-In contrast to these oppressive, mean, and chaotic ways of the world coming into being comes this story of a speaking God.

-That tells us another theological truth about God: God speaks and is thus relational. He’s not far off removed from ever interacting with His creation, instead He is a speaking God who cares about His creation.

-Some astute observers may note that light/darkness comes before the sun and the moon. I’ve known some people who refused to become Christians because of that fact! 

-First things first, Hebrew people didn’t necessarily see a contradiction with this, dawn/dusk are light without the sun. 

-Second, did you know astronomers recently found light spread throughout the galaxy that has no known source? “They’re saying that there’s as much light outside of galaxies as there is inside of galaxies” I love seeing science catch up to what God has revealed to be true!

Day 2 – waters 

-The dome above and the waters below. Heaven/the skies were viewed as a big bubble of water (makes sense as water comes from above and below!) Separation once again between the 2 waters

-“And it was so.” 

-This leads to it now having sky, air, etc. 

-Seas were often seen as gods in ANE, but this says it’s something God made

Day 3 – land 

-Begins by separating the water from the land. Almost looks as if the water is drawn away to expose that which is underneath it.

-Notice God naming things. In ANE thought naming was equated with ruling/governing/creating. Points, again, to God being a relational God 

-This separation is good. But he doesn’t stop with just creating land, the land becomes hospitable for the subsequent creatures: vegetation, seeds, fruit

-“According to their kind.” God orders all of these things, creates boundaries for them, allows them to flourish.

-Boundaries bring about creativity, unstructured freedom is chaos!

Day 4 – sun and moon

-First 3 days are creating the environment, these next 3 correlate to the first 3 and fill them out

-Day 1 is light, day 4 is the where the light comes from: sun and moon. 

-First, notice that they’re not named anywhere? Other religions viewed them as gods, here God won’t even refer to them by name! They’re called “the greater light” and “the lesser light.” God doesn’t play by everyone else’s rules, He is the one true God, no other god can compare to Him so He isn’t even willing to mention their names.

-Notice as well, the purpose of these lights: separating again the day from night, signs and seasons and days and years. Their purpose is to keep seasons and reminders of God’s continued faithfulness.

-These lights, these signs and seasons are good.

Day 5  – the waters/spaces are now hospitable and filled with creatures

-The space created by the separating waters are now filled with birds, the waters below are filled with all sorts of sea creatures! 

-They are created by “kinds,” God’s limitless creativity is bounded by His creation.

-This creation is “good.” Unique in that they are the first ones blessed by God, and given a mandate: Be fruitful, multiply, fill the sea and the land.

Day 6 – land creatures and humans

-“Let the earth bring forth.” Where the previous creation was out of nothing, this day the creation is refined.

-It also is a much longer section than any of the previous days, where the previous ones were in double speed, day 6 comes to a screeching halt and emphasizes everything that happens.

-Land animals are all created “according to their kind.” And they’re good.

-Then the pinnacle of creation: humans. The only thing in the entire created order that represents God – other things point to him, humans are made to image/represent Him.

-This “image of God” idea is worth studying further, I don’t have time today, but what this refers to is being his representatives/serving at His bidding. At the time, kings would have statues made and then distributed throughout their kingdom to bring their “image” to rule/reign over their entire domain. So when God creates humans in his image, they are meant to be distributed throughout his kingdom to bring his “image” to rule/reign over His entire domain.

-Then these humans are blessed by God, in what is known as the “creation mandate.”

-Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over fish, birds, animals. Part of this creation mandate is the command to work in subduing the earth. The Garden of Eden wasn’t like an all-inclusive resort where you sit back sipping Mai Tais and watch the world go by, Adam and Eve are given jobs to do in ruling with God over the created order. We’ll look at that a little more fully next week.

-This section ends with everything being tov maod – very good. Only reason I remember that is my Hebrew prof would speak Hebrew in class, if you answered right you’d get tov maod, and my motto for the class was: lo tov – no good!

-One last thing to remember, before we get to the last day: Keep everything in its’ proper order/kind! Humans are not animals and should not be treated as animals. Animals are not plants and should not be treated as plants. Seems like an obvious point, but our world is confusing these things! Even down to being gendered beings: male and female TOGETHER image God into the world! Male in and of itself cannot adequately image God, and female in and of itself cannot adequately image God. We’ll look more fully at this next week, again.

-These 6 days serve as the foundation for the rest of creation, and then God finishes His work. 

  • God Rested (2:1-3)

-Look at the wording of this finishing: where else does God say He’s finished? When Jesus dies on the cross, bearing the penalty for all of the sin that came about when creation was thrust back into chaos – just as God finished his work in creation, there His work is finished in redemption.

-Then this day is unlike the previous days because God blesses this 7th day. Up until this point it’s the creation that’s blessed, this time God blesses a day and sanctifies it.

-Just as God rested, so He commands his people to rest. In Ex. 31:13 God tells His people: “‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” This pattern of 6 days on/one day off actually sets God’s people off as unique from everyone else. It demonstrates to everyone our trust in God. Prevents work from becoming an idol. Ultimately, the sabbath rest reminds us that we are not God! We can’t work 24/7 and thrive, we need rest.

-Now – notice this 7th day has no end. All 6 previous days said “evening/morning the ___ day” This is a way of saying everything was as God intended it to be.

-Just as God rested, so we’re to find our ultimate rest in Him. Augustine: “Our hearts our restless until they find their rest in Thee.” 

-This story gives us a glimpse of God’s heart toward his creation, His desire to live in perfect relationship with Him, and our job of joining with God in bringing order from the chaos of the world around us. Do you see that as your aim, as your story, as your reason for living? Where do you fit within this storyline that God has used to reveal to us? 

Psalm 9 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Give Thanks

Psalm 9

-Wizard of Oz – the man behind the curtain. Looks impressive until you see what’s really back there.

-2 sections in this Psalm: one looks back, one asks for present help

-History of combining these 2 into 2 long Psalm (if you look at Psalm 10, no header) we’ll see the second reason in a bit

READ

PRAY

  1. Prayer for Past Deliverance (1-12)

-Begins with another musical note no one knows what this means (some translated it as “The death of the son”) 

-Again, we have no clue the bigger context, David wrote it, that’s all we’ve got

-We do know that it all these Psalms served as the corporate songs of the Jewish people throughout history, meaning the singers/writers have a vital part to play in the life of the church

-Have you ever thought about how music has a universalizing reach? Songs are written by 1 person or a small group of people sharing their thoughts/experiences, but when those thoughts/experiences get released out into the world, it becomes the mantra of a generation. 

-I love music. I collected CDs as I was growing up (mowed a lawn, got $20/week, bought me 1 new CD/week!)

-My favorite band toured on the 10th anniversary of their best album, the entire room sang along with every single song

-Music moves us, shapes us, fashions us, imbeds ideas into our hearts & minds – so be careful with music! It’s a gift/tool to help stir our affections toward the things of God – Gods loves beauty.

-Spurgeon: “Singing and preaching, as means of glorifying God, are here joined together, and it is remarkable that, connected with all revivals of gospel ministry, there has been a sudden outburst of the spirit of song.”

-Theological idea: New City Catechism question #2 Who is God? God is the creator of everyone and everything. God created beauty, God designed beauty, that’s part of the main idea from Psalm 8 – “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers” we are stirred/moved to worship.

-Someone in the church just got married, went to one of my favorite places in the world for their anniversary: Estes Park, CO. The reason places like Estes Park exist is to remind us of our finitude. You don’t look at mountains like that and go “wanna know how much money I have in my bank account?” 

-Secondly, if Estes Park is THAT beautiful now, what do you think it’ll look like when sin is no longer wreaking havoc on it?

-Similarly to places like Estes Park, which as beautiful, even art is/can be used to bring honor/glory to God. Music can be used to bring honor and glory to God. Writing. Working. Sleeping. Eating. Reading. Singing. Thinking.

-The reality is, God wants us to do things excellently, not as a form of pride, but to use our unique gifts/talents to be a blessing. Why am I talking about all this?

-This Psalm, combined with Psalm 10 are an acrostic. This wasn’t just written off the cuff, this took time and effort to create a beautiful poem that uses each letter of the Hebrew alphabet as a prayer point. 

-Ever thought of doing the same? Going through the alphabet as a prayer list. A – my sister Anna, B – thankful for the bread I ate this morning, C – God’s greatest gift of all COFFEE!

-Realize that we live our whole lives coram deo before the face of God. So even something as seemingly trivial as writing a song/poem can/should be an act of worship. God cares about beauty, He designed it, and inspired others’ skills/talents to write down thoughts/ideas that are beautiful works of art. The building of the temple in 2 Chronicles was done by skilled craftsmen.

  1. Thanksgiving (1-2, 11-12)

-David approaches God by giving thanks, with what? His whole heart.

-3 ways to approach God: no heart (shaking your fist at him), half-heartedly (what has He ever done for me?) whole heartedly (with all you’ve got!)

-God doesn’t want a little bit of you, He’s not asking to be your co-pilot, he’s looking to take over and redirect, refocus, re-shape everything you do!

-How are we to give thanks? By recounting ALL his wonderful deeds

-Maybe that’s why David uses every letter of the alphabet, it keeps his thoughts on track to continue recounting all the deeds God has done, A-Z! Maybe instead of the alphabet you need to use numbers: 1 – God, 2 – daughters, 3 – churches that loved me and my family and let me serve them.

-We, as the church, are commanded to be a thankful people, giving thanks with our whole hearts by remembering and celebrating all the things God has done, is doing, and will do in all our lives. How many blessings do we miss/neglect because we’re not taking time to be thankful for how God is working?

-As you read through the OT, does it ever strike you just how much time Israel is given to festivals and parties? Even Jesus when he comes is described as “eating and drinking.” Church, God has created us to be party people! Not saying we eat/drink in excess, but we even eat and drink to God’s glory, so I can eat my pellet smoked medium steak and really and truly enjoy it as God’s good gift, and we can invite our friend, neighbors, and even our enemies to come participate in a taste of the feast that will be waiting for us when Christ returns. Do you ever notice that one of the things Jesus does when He returns is feast, throw a big party? Where we’ll have the best family reunion in the world! But we’re not there yet.

-Notice in vs. 11 where we’re supposed to tell his deeds: the peoples. Share with all!

  • The Enemies (3-6)

-Just as David had enemies who were trying to subvert/destroy Him, we have an enemy who is doing his best to undermine the mission of the King, to distract us, to tempt us and to take us away from pursuing everything God has commanded us to do

-Remember what I said about a place like Estes Park, or even beauty, they’re meant to make us feel the need for transcendence, but what about those who don’t “give thanks with their whole hearts”, those who shake their fists at God?

-Almost like God vs. the world. The enemies will do their best to fight against him, to push against him, but who ultimately rules and judges? We’ll see this more fully fleshed out in vs. 7.

-Notice that these enemies stumble and perish. They can’t even keep themselves together. And when these enemies are compared to someone walking/living in holiness, God will bring about perfect justice.

-Not sure if you’ve been following what’s been happening in Afghanistan, but it is a humanitarian crisis. Read an article this week that contained some quotes from our brothers and sisters there “One brother described these days as “dark” and said they feel like a “storm.” Then he asked that we pray for “revival.”” Listened to a podcast that talked about Afghan Christians, for the first time, putting “Christian” on their identification card to set a new trajectory for their families, those people are now being singled out. A reported tweeted, “A person who works with house church networks in Afghanistan reports its leaders received letters last night from the #Taliban warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. The leaders say they aren’t going anywhere. So it begins.”

-See, God has rebuked the nations, God will blot out their name forever, those in the Taliban serving Satan and his minions will face everlasting judgment for their sins, but it can be hard to keep that perspective when it seems like evil has the upper hand! 

-The word used to describe “wicked” in vs. 5 refers to those who are practical atheists, they hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, and speak lies and slander. 

Romans 1 describes these wicked people as “suppressing the truth.”

-Church, we need to remember not to suppress the truth, not to live for this world, this world is not our home! We are sojourner, aliens, and strangers. We need not fear any trial/tribulation here because what can they do, kill us? Then we see Jesus! What these enemies don’t realize is that they have an expiration date.

  • The Lord (7-10)

-But the Lord sits enthroned FOREVER. 

-Have you ever thought about the fact or reality that God has ensured that the church will never end, that His Words would be perfectly contained for millennia? 

-Multiple groups, civilizations, countries, rulers, laws, tribes, tongues, nations have done their best to eradicate Christianity from the face of the earth. Even “intellectuals” have declared “God is dead” since Nietzsche wrote that in 1882. But who is enthroned forever? And what is the purpose of His throne? JUSTICE. There’s that idea that we saw a couple weeks ago again.

-This idea ties us back to vs. 4. “You have maintained my just cause” 

-All of us want justice for ourselves, but what about when we’re the one deserving of the penalty for justice? 

-God is the one who judges with righteousness, and that righteousness, as we’ve seen throughout all these Psalms only comes by and through God Himself bearing the weight and penalty of these enemies who are opposed to God and His ways. Notice how those enemies are described in vs. 8

-world – people. The world is comprised of people, so people aren’t off the hook for the way the world is operating. That’s where we as the church have to be the city on a hill, light shining into the darkness, salt in the world who proclaim and demonstrate what justice looks like, because our world will keep fumbling around in the dark trying to come up with broken/inadequate solutions for a cross shaped problem.

-That’s what David says here in vs. 10 – “those who know your name” someone’s name in the OT meant something significant. Until my generation came along and started giving their kids names like “Apple” and “North West” names carried connotations. When God commands Moses to lead His people, He gives Moses His name, that is his character, his way of operating, his resume. So when you read in 1 John something like “God is love” that’s God using His name to remind us of truths about Him.

-What is the first thing you learn about someone? Their name! You have to teach that to kids – Calvin.

-‘It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.’ James 1:27 reminds us “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

-Religion is just a way of referring to a system of beliefs, your operating principle. What’s crazy about our religion, is it contains a relationship with God.

-After David has reminded himself of how God has worked in the past, he then turns to the present:

  • Prayer for Present Deliverance (13-20)
    • Deliverance to Praise (13-14)

-The theme of whining comes up again. David is in a tough spot and needs God to intervene on his behalf. He asks for God to be gracious, and to see/pay attention to his affliction. Why?

-So that he can return to praising God. Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1: What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. We are all created as worshipping beings, we’re created to worship God, but we don’t always do that! Because of the salvation freely given through belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, we get to praise Him together. 

-Everything you do, say, and are, is meant to be used to praise Him. Even our sufferings, trials, difficulties are an opportunity to rely more fully one Him than we did before! He won’t let anything go to waste!

-It’s one thing for s child of God to suffer, because we know the outcome, but what about those who are opposed to God, the enemies that were brought up in vs. 3-6?

  • The Nations (15-18)

-Remember the Wil E Coyote gifs I showed you 2 weeks ago? That’s how God views the nations. Pit they made, foot caught in their own trap

-The Bible calls those who are opposed to God foolish, and even the nations that are opposed to God and nothing compared to Him. Have you ever thought about the reality that no nation has existed forever? There was a time that the good old US of A didn’t exist. There may even come a time when the USA is a footnote in a history book somewhere. Every major nation has been defeated at some point. Egypt, Babylon, Rome, England. The ruins of the Roman Empire are tourist attractions today! The empire that tried to wipe out a flourishing Jewish sect called Christianity in the 1st Century. Who’s still standing today?

-So in response, God reveals himself (might only be after they die) but ultimately God will reveal Himself to everyone! Yet the wicked are still defeated by their own attempts to grab at power.

-C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it.”

Selah

-It says the wicked shall RETURN to Sheol. 2 notes:

-Return signifies where they came from

-The biblical idea of repentance is the idea of returning. So everyone will return to something, either Sheol or the Father’s arms.

-Those are the ones whom forgot God, they will in turn be forgotten by God. What a terrible place to be!

-Lastly, see how evil these nations are: they neglect the poor and the needy. That’s exactly where we, as representatives of God are to care for those that our society deems as “poor and needy.” (James 1:27) Those who are evil don’t/won’t care for them, but they’re the very people God cares for. His Son was one of those poor/needy people! 

-In response to the way the poor and needy are treated:

  • The Lord Judges (19-20)

-No man can stand before God, we see in Psalm 2 that when the nations rage and the peoples plot IN VAIN, that God laughs at them! Everyone will have to face God someday and be judged for how they live.

-This idea goes completely contrary to the expressive individualism we see rampant around us. Talking with someone this week about our current education system. Did you know that originally public education was implement to help civilize people and train them to become good citizens? The purpose of education is to train people how to conform to the group/culture at large. Today, though, you’re not allowed to be conformed to some standard, the standard is supposed to be conformed to the individual.

-For we who are in Christ, we are to be conformed as a group into an individual – Christ. Our education in our faith is to be like Christ, and we all need to work to become more like him and help each other become more like Him “imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

-At the end of the day, all societies, nations, they’re just people, they’re not God! So why do we fear puny little men? God is giving his people (us) a peek behind the curtain here. Even if persecution comes for us, what are we afraid of, we’ve seen the little man hiding behind a curtain! Why do we worry/fret about our society decaying? We’re a part of a different society and we have a job to do! To reveal the little man behind the curtain for every other religion/ideology/thought that doesn’t have God as its’ foundation/author. One of the best ways we can do that is by giving thanks. This week, use the alphabet to give thanks! Come up with 10 ways God has blessed you. Every night Cara and I ask each other “what are you thankful for today?”

Psalm 4 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Trust in God

Psalm 4

-Book of Psalms cover the gamut of human experiences/emotions 

-Has a prescript, just like the previous one, but doesn’t list a specific time

-Some believe Psalm 3 & 4 are connected to the same experience (with Absalom)

-David says distress, mocked, time of wanting

-Nothing in the text specifically ties it to that

-Others have called Psalm 3 the morning Psalm (vs. 5 “I woke again) then Psalm 4 becomes the evening Psalm (vs. 8 “I will lie down and sleep). Even became an evening prayer in the synagogue.

-Others have tried connecting it to a different time in Israel’s history, a time of famine like 2 Sam 21 “Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord.”

-Somewhat getting into the weeds, but based off some of the word choices in vs. 2 that lead scholars to believe the Israelites were pursuing Baal and other fertile/agrarian gods as their support instead of trusting in Yahweh.

-Where last week’s theme was physical persecution, the emphasis/focus this week is on verbal/emotional persecution.

-Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

READ
PRAY

-3 primary groups/people addressed in this Psalm: God, enemies, myself.

-The need to preach to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves

-This will then lead us to more boldly and freely preach to others

  1. To God (1)

-David comes out swinging! “Answer me” 

-How many of you are that bold in your prayers?

-The reality is God already knows what’s in our hearts, he knows our thoughts before they enter our minds, before we speak he knows what we’re going to say, we can’t run away from him, we can’t hide from him, there’s nowhere we can go where he isn’t already there (yes, double negative, learned in music theory, you learn all the rules so you can break them)

-This reality is (to me) one of the craziest things about praying – God already knows it, so why do we try to hide when we talk with him?

-Spurgeon: “It is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’”

-We can always expect an answer from God, here’s the crazy thing: God doesn’t ever get tired of answering our prayers. Article this week: “I may get tired of being needy, but God doesn’t get tired of providing for his children.

I may get tired of always asking, but God doesn’t get tired of answering his children.

Just like he loves making another few trillion daffodils every spring, and providing food for billions of birds every winter, he continues to love answering the prayers of all his needy children, over and over and over again. My need for him never ends—and he’s okay with that. In fact, he tells me to come, every day, for my daily needs like my daily bread and his forgiveness and strength to forgive others and to see his kingdom established in the world in righteousness and peace and justice—and every burden of every kind, big or small; as Peter says, “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.””

-Do you ever feel like God gets tired of hearing from you? Think of the examples Jesus gives of prayer: persistent widow, persistent friend after the Lord’s prayer

-God invites us, encourages us, and models for us remaining persistent in prayer 

Podcast today: “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.”

-How does David refer to God in this situation?

-When things aren’t going well, when people are opposed to him, he reminds himself where his help, support and strength come from: “O God of my righteousness.” CSB “O God who vindicates me.”

-Think of Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

-Righteousness a big theme in Romans, righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:22) that is, the only way we can call God the God of my righteousness if by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and believing in Him. It is this belief that leads to a reminder:

-Because David has put his hope, trust, confidence in God, he can then look back on previous problems without worry. 

-Notice the tense: You HAVE given

-Anytime David starts to worry about what God’s doing he reminds himself how God has worked in the past

-ESV SB “Past experience emboldens the faithful to confident prayer.”

-It’s almost as if David can’t get too far complaining before he realizes what he’s doing and pulls himself back.

-So because of the previous ways God has worked in his life, it emboldens David to ask:

-Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

-The word “hear” is used as a way to emphasize, draw attention to. Someone telling you “listen up!” 

– William Carey: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

-Do you boldly come before God, asking him to listen up and answer you? Because we can! We’re invited, encouraged, exhorted to!

-After first bringing his plea to God, David then turns to his enemies:

  • To My Enemies (2-5)

-Spurgeon: “Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”

-Word translated “O men” isn’t the normal phrase, refers to men of renown/good standing in the community

-Isn’t some random dude complaining, this is like someone from Congress or the Senate bad mouthing you. How would you respond? David responds by asking some questions:

-How long will my honor be turned to shame?

-This refers to the way these men are speaking ill of David

-How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

-David calls out their own sins, instead of slandering David they’re revealing what’s in their hearts.

-Where I think many of us would be prone to give in, worry, complain, stress, David begins with God, then goes directly to his accusers

-Some translators translate the lies to “false gods” which is another way of saying lies! Satan is referred to as the father of lies, and when people put other things in God’s place they are lying. This is why I’m so passionate about rightly ordered and directed worship. If we worship anything other than God we are making committing idolatry, which is lying against God. 

-How often is that the temptation for all of us when things aren’t going the way we want them/expect them to? Instead of coming to God when people are complaining about us we run away from God, blame Him, look to other comforts

-Then it’s as if David realizes what he’s saying and who he’s talking to, but before we get to that, one word: selah

-Vs. 3

-After reminding them that they’re a bunch of dirty scoundrels, David compares himself to them and is reminded he’s not them! He doesn’t need to stoop to their level, play their game, or give into the same things they’re pursuing

-God has set apart, another way of thinking of this is sanctified/made holy. God has always had a group that is “set apart” from the rest of the world, first referred to the way Israel is “set apart” from Egypt. Today those who are “set apart” is called “the church, Christ’s body, Christ’s bride” that’s us – the people David is talking to would know about the history of Israel being “set apart” from Egypt

-One translator translates godly here as committed, another translates it as “faithful.” Those who are “set apart” are whomever is being faithful to obey God.

-Because David is one of those who is “set apart” God hears when he calls – implied is that God doesn’t hear when the other guys call out to him. Also points to the reality to the access those “set apart” ones have before God – kid walking up to me at Calvin’s swim lesson, not my kid, wet knee, unhappy me!

-Vs. 4 is difficult to translate well, partly because of the way Eph. 4:26 picks up this verse. 

-Hebrew -> LXX -> Latin -> English

Eph. 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

-Better translation of the Hebrew is “tremble” which better fits the context (Greek went with “be angry”) David had just called out his enemies for idolatry, this would then pick up that theme, need to tremble before God. How many times do people reverse these ideas: sin, and do not tremble

-David is giving us a 4-fold response when we’re being ridiculed. First, tremble. That is, ensure your worship is right. Getting to Heb. 12:28 approach God with reverence and awe, acceptable worship.

-Second is a good life rule: do not sin. Instead of lashing out at other people who may hurt you with words, or using it as an opportunity to complain to God, don’t give in, don’t sin. Instead:

-Third, ponder in your own hearts. Take time to assess where you’re at, how you have been wrong, how someone else can be used to sanctify/refine you, use your pillow as your sounding board/counselor

-Fourth: be silent. Stop talking! People fear silence today. Selah.

-4 things isn’t enough to do, David adds 2 more in vs. 5

-Instead of seeking after lies/false gods, they are to “offer right sacrifices.” Similar to trembling above, begin by getting worship right. One can guess that after the exhortation of vs. 4 the hearers were like the people who heard the 12 apostles in Jerusalem at the day of Pentecost: “What must I do to be saved?” 

-Most of the time we get into difficult situations we are prone to turn our gaze off God and onto something else. When you’re discouraged, what do you turn to? Favorite food, TV show, working out, working. What we need to do is turn to God, worship Him first, come before Him first, and then we can respond rightly to whichever situations we’re in, which is what David says next:

-When we focus on God, it reminds us that we can put our trust in Him! Pointing back to vs. 1, when has God failed you in the past? That gives us confidence for the future! 

-Think of what Jesus said about worry. Which of you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

-David then changes the focus one more time in this Psalm – first to God, then his enemies, lastly to himself.

  • To Myself (6-8)

-This theme of “many” we saw last week. Comparing himself to those around him

-They want prosperity (remember that, theme in vs. too)

-Isn’t that human nature? Always wanting more. Dream of achieving something, then the goal moves. That’s basically our celebrity culture! Never satisfied.

-Then we demand God bend to our wills/whims and ask him to look upon our sinful request with blessing

-This “light of your face upon us” is picking up the idea of the Aaronic blessing in Num. 6:24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance [face] upon you and give you peace.” These “many” people are twisting and distorting God’s Words against Him! (just as the tempter did the Jesus in the wilderness)

-But David remembers, and reminds himself the truth of Psalm 84:10 “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A second with God is better than living in incredible wealth and prosperity. 

-David is comparing those who demand God give material blessing to the reality that all those blessings are just meant to point us to the reality that this world is not our home. But how fickle are humans, how easily contented to sit in the mediocrity of the world when God is offering us himself.

-God’s gift of himself leads to more joy/happiness/contentedness than when “grain and wine abound.” But aren’t grain and wine abounding how our world views success? We, as Christians, aren’t supposed to be content with just the grain and the wine, in fact the grain and wine are supposed to point us forward to a time when true, lasting prosperity will last forever. So as Christians, we’re to use/steward these good gifts of God

-This is one of the primary ways we differ from the world: we need to view the good gifts of God as good gifts, not worshipping them, not idolizing them, not pursuing them for themselves, but realizing they’re gifts from a good God who loves us and allows us to do everything to his glory

-Someone recently asked me what the outreach strategy is for the church: you. Jesus started with 12 people that he poured himself into, loved, served.

-What’s extraordinary about the gospel is it uses our ordinary lives as a testimony and witness of God’s unbelievable grace

-When we are faithfully following God (whether or not the grain or wine abound) God will use us, that will allow us to have peace – both vertically and horizontally

JI Packer: “Congregations in every age must see themselves as learning communities in which gospel truth has to be taught, defended, and vindicated against corruptions of it and alternatives to it. Being alert to all aspects of the difference between true and false teaching, and of behavior that expresses the truth as distinct from obscuring it, is vital to the church’s health.”

-Sundays are to remind us who/whose we are, to be equipped to go into the rest of our lives remembering that we live for God alone – compared to this Psalm: we gather weekly to be reminded that God answers us, then we can boldly proclaim the Word to the watching world. We are the a worshipping church both when we gather and scatter.

-Even when David is mocked and people speak poorly against him, David can still lie down and sleep, because God has made him to dwell in safety.

-That’s the case with all of us! We can lie down and sleep contentedly because we’re never safer than when we’re walking with God. This will allow us to have peace even when sticks and stones are thrown at us, and words do hurt us. Instead of saying ‘Yeah, right.” We can trust ourselves to the perfect judge who has faithfully walked with us every step of the way.

The Singing Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

The Singing

Eph. 5:15-21, Col. 3:12-17

-Why do we sing when we gather together? Most of us don’t have training, most of us don’t want others to hear us when we do sing (shower head), if we’re brutally honest most of us don’t really gel with the songs we sing anyway.

  1. What Is Worship?

-Unfortunate when we started making “worship music” as a genre

-God is interested in things being done well, honorable

-Ascribing worth and honor to God. Why? Because he alone is worthy! (Psalm 96)

-Tell of his salvation, declare his glory, he is to be feared

-All of our lives are worship (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 12:1)

-Francis Chan eating a Snickers bar to the glory of God

-Martin Luther “The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.”

-Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in 1647: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

-Worship -> Christian worship -> corporate worship

-What are some idols you see being worshipped today?

-Technology addiction – Time magazine, teenagers are becoming addicted to their cell phones, leading to depression. 

-Social networking – FOMO, fear of missing out.

-Money? 401K your god? Maybe the security of being financial stable? 

-In fact, none of these things are completely bad! A smart phone allows Cara’s parents to see their grandkids on a regular basis. Social networking lets me keep up with friends across the globe. The problem is when they become gods.

-What about family? Families are a gift from the Lord, but elevating them to the place of God is wrong. 

-Maybe image is your God? Proverbs reminds us that beauty is fleeting

-Health1 Tim. 4:8 “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

-Job? What if you’re fired?

-What about our acts of worshipAmos 5:21-24 ““I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

-“the worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.” (David Peterson, 20)

Hebrews 12:28-29

-Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10)

-Therefore, worship is always a response to God. (see below)

-every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17)

-What do you have that you did not receive (1 Cor. 4:7)

-Worshipping is acknowledging these realities.

-One of the primary ways we can worship is through singing.

  • Singing is the Pattern of God’s People

-Creation accounts in LOTR and Narnia

-Adam (Gen. 2:23) “Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

-Crossing the Red Sea (Ex. 15) “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

-Deborah and Barak (Judges 5) (prophetess and leader in Israel, after Sisera is killed)

-Singing about Saul and David (1 Sam. 18) “And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

-Psalms as songs (A song of…) 18, 30, 45, 46

-Restoration of the temple under Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29) “The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped.”

-Jesus and the 12 (Matt. 26:30) “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

-new heavens and earth (Rev. 4:8) “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

Rev. 5:9-10

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

-early church 

-Pliny, governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor Christians “met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god.”

– Tertullian, writing from North Africa during the end of the 1st Century, “Each is invited to sing to God in the presence of others from what he knows of the holy scripture or from his own heart.”

-Jonathan Edwards: “And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.”

-what moves your affections?

  • We Sing to Remember

-We are forgetful people.

-Comic strip at Grace

-Building ebenezers in the OT

-How many times does it take you to remember something?

2017 Study – average American spend 2.5 days each year looking for lost items.

-Repetition is necessary to remember:

Psalm 136

-G.K. Chesterton: “it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”

-What does this look like in the NT? A couple parallel passages in Ephesians and Colossians

  1. Address One Another (Eph. 5)

“how you walk”

-walk this way

-Theme in this letter (4:1, 17; 5:2, 8) Paul’s way of talking about how they live

“best use of the time”

-Worship God everywhere we go

-Shema in Deut. 6

-Foolish contrasted with “the will of the Lord”

1 Thess. 4:3 “For this is the will of God: your sanctification (holiness)”

-Do not be drunk

-be filled by the Spirit, not the spirits (similar to what was happening in Corinth)

-How are we filled by the Spirit? Vs 19

-“addressing one another”

-You need to sing! You can’t address each other unless you’re singing

-Volume – too loud no one sings, too quiet no one sings

-Psalms (Jewish) hymns (Greek) spiritual song (everything else)

-Hymn definition: Augustine defined it: sung, praise, to God. 

-Google: a religious song or poem of praise to God or a god.

-Merriman Webster: a song of praise to God

-I’ve yet to find a definition of hymn that means: in the hymnal or old.

-Grant Osborne “Hymns in the early church were used to teach theology to believers. The lyrics were chosen not for their artistic value but for their truth and depth of content.” (182)

-“with your heart” not just IN your heart, WITH 

-“giving thanks always and for everything”

-Even the songs you don’t like. Every week we sing songs I don’t like!

-“If the gathering is about building up and encouraging the church, then a song I don’t like presents an opportunity to love and encourage others whose tastes differ from mine.” (Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace, 88)

-“submitting to one another.”

-Dying to ourselves, loving each other enough to look beyond our personal preferences

  • The Word of Christ (Col. 3)

-Clothing metaphor (earlier was putting off, this is putting on) 

-Laundry list of characteristics 

-One another’s in the NT

-Forgiving, we saw this idea last week in the Lord’s Prayer

-Love brings a beautiful harmony to everything we do

-melody vs harmony

-We need to use our gifts to create this harmony, that’s why I try to help Tami out with music regularly

-Peace of Christ leads to one body

-Thankfulness (again!)

-Word of Christ dwell

-you will probably forget everything I say today as you walk out the doors! You might walk out humming a song (guy complaining about it)

“Read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances)” (Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church, 81)

-Singing is a form of teaching and admonishing each other

-Sing OUT LOUD!

-Whatever you do

-life of worship

-What does this look like?

-Liturgy: the work of the people

“The goal of our gatherings should be to cultivate practices that form our church to live in the good news of the gospel.” (Cosper, 121)

-Caught & Taught: reorientation 

The Common Flow (Bryan Chapell Christ Centered Worship, 100)

                        Adoration – recognition of God’s character

                        Confession – acknowledgment of our character

                        Assurance – affirmation of grace

                        Thanksgiving – expression of devotion

                        Petition and Intercession – desire for aid in living for God

                        Instruction from God’s Word – acquiring knowledge for pleasing God

                        Charge and Benediction – living unto God with his blessing

The Consistent message: The Gospel re-presented

-Begin, in the middle, and end with “the Word of Christ.”

“Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.” Gordon Fee

-Service centers around the preaching of God’s Word, so song choice and other elements center on that theme (all else fails, re-present the gospel!)

-Variety of songs, styles, and ages (catalogue of no more than 100 with 8-12 new ones a year)

-Language matters (as we continue to worship through…)

-The entire service is important, not just the sermon or the songs, but BOTH

-Healthy tensions/well balanced diet: (Zac Hicks The Worship Pastor, 73)

  • Transcendence and immanence of God (Isaiah 6:5 “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!””) (Acts 17:28 ““‘In him we live and move and have our being’;)
    • Cognitive and emotional (Head and Heart) (doxology & theology) (Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”, Romans 12:1-2 “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”) (Psalm 32:11 “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”)
    • Internal and external expressions (Matthew 15:8-9 ““‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”, 1 Corinthians 13) (Psalm 100:2 “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”, 101:1, 95:6 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”, 134:2 “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!”)
    • Vertical and horizontal (Psalm 96:2 “sing to the Lord, bless his name”, 98:5-6) (Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”)
    • Planned and spontaneous – story of planning in pencil
    • Historic and contextualized (rooted and relevant)
    • For the church and for the unbeliever “Sit long – talk much – laugh often.” (Col. 3:16) (1 Cor. 14:24-25 “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.)
    • Gathered and Scattered (1 Corinthians 14:26 “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up, 11:17-18) (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”)

-So when we gather, we need to remember to teach and admonish one another, and one of the ways we can do that is by singing.

The Prayers Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you’d like to follow along with the sermon itself, please watch it on our YouTube channel.

Prayers

Luke 11:1-13

-Anyone have a friend? How do you get to know that friend? Talk!

READ

PRAY

  1. Teach Us to Pray (1-4)

-Doesn’t tell us where Jesus is, just a “certain place” 

-Prayer is a regular/routine part of Jesus’ life

-We see often throughout the Gospel accounts that Jesus would withdraw by Himself to pray

-During His last night on earth, he withdraws with his disciples to pray

-This pattern is supposed to be the same in our lives today: 1 Thess. 5:16 “Pray without ceasing.” Does that verse ever discourage you? I need to work, change diapers, mow the lawn, get dinner ready, do the dishes, how do I “pray without ceasing”? Great question – not going to answer it today, but there will be some tips today that will help you live a life of prayer.

-Secondly, there is the need to be taught how to pray. 

-Ask Jesus to be like his cousin

-These prayers served as the identity markers of this band of brothers

-Each “rabbi” would have a set prayer that he would teach his disciples

-These disciples want that same identity marker for their new group, and Jesus is happy to oblige.

-But one thing we need to note – no matter how long you’ve been a Christian, there are still opportunities for you to continue to be taught in how you pray. How often do you find yourself slipping into the same patterns, phrases, and requests? 

-God is more than “just” 

-“Shoot Christians Say” “I Just pray you give him traveling mercies. Pray for all his unspoken” “Echo to that” “I echo the echo of his echo of my echo.”

-If you haven’t noticed our overseers pray here every week. Each one of them emphasizes different aspects in the life of our church, and each of them serve as a model to the rest of us. Notice Jesus says here “When you pray SAY” written prayers can at times be helpful to give us words to say, but there’s also times where the Spirit will use our silence to intercede on our behalf!

-If you struggle knowing how to pray, find some resources to work through, and even more importantly, find someone to help you! We have a group of dedicated people who meet every Wednesday night during the school year to pray! If you are ever looking for some books or resources that will equip you, let me know! It’s not a sin or embarrassing to ask for help! 

-Think of it like this: all of us have certain tools we can use. My grandpa is with the Lord, but imagine if he were here today, transported from 1987. Do you think he’d be able to figure out how to use my iPhone? Or else think of the skilled trades – they’re called skilled for a reason! But let’s take a plumber as an example. At one of our houses, backup in the basement about every year. The tools the plumber brought in looked awesome! Now imagine you called me and asked me to come to your house and fix your plumbing. First of all, you’d be crazy! But even if I had all those tools at my disposal, I’d be useless to you (and probably break something). Having someone (or using a book) teaches you how to use the tools that God has given you to be more effective in your discipleship journey. 

-“Prayer is not natural. Effective prayer has to be taught and learned.” (Anyabwile, 187)

-1 more illustration (since I’m in the middle of this one right now!) If you’ve ever had kids, it takes time, teaching, and intentional training for them to learn how to function as a human being. Talking, walking, running, throwing a ball, etc. In the process of growth, you don’t yell at them for failing, you celebrate the wins! With prayer, celebrate the little steps. If your step in learning is just praying once a day for 30 sec, and that’s growth, PRAISE GOD! Whatever it is, please don’t become complacent or content with where you’re at, find ways to grow

-So how did Jesus teach us to pray? 

-2 accounts in the Bible about how to pray, Luke’s is a little more concise, but demonstrates all the same themes as Matthew. 

-Jesus would use similar stories multiple times. The Gospel accounts are highlighting major events that took place during a 3 year period – so let’s look at those themes!

  1. Begin with God

-This prayer is unlike the other prayers these disciples would have been taught, or that they would have heard other disciples around them praying.

-We so often just assume these things because they’ve become part and parcel of the Christian faith for so long, but Jesus teaches us to approach God with 1 word: father, or in Matt OUR Father

-JI Packer Knowing God “You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.”

-Tim Keller “The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.”

-Think of the way other religions teach their people to approach their “gods” Buddhism you have to empty yourself of everything, Muslims have to face a VERY specific direction laying prostrate, the 1 true God invites us to boldly come into his presence as our loving Father. One thing to note about this prayer is how simple it is, contrary to many of those other religions. 

-In Matt. 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

-“Pagan prayers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to mollify fickle gods who often did more harm than good, while Jesus introduces a God who deeply cares and can be approached directly.” (Osborne, 297) 

-Prophets of Baal vs. Elijah “shout louder! Maybe he’s musing! Relieving himself, sleeping, on a journey”

-We begin with the realization that God is our father and we are his children, means we can come to him as our loving and caring father. Then we see that we are to hallow his name. What is that?

-Honoring, revering, making holy. One way to think about that is to remember that God is God alone and supremely. That He is God, that He alone is worthy of worship. 

-All of the Bible is a story about how God can honored above everything else

-Luther in his Great Catechism “How is it hallowed amongst us? Answer: When our life and doctrine are truly Christian.”

-That is: worshipping God with every area of our lives.

-After acknowledging that God, out Father is supreme, we are to ask for:

  • His Rule

-There is a king whose kingdom has not, does not, will not end. We don’t always see this reality and most of the time we miss when these things are taking place around us. Think of how beautiful a rising sun is. Think of how delicious a medium rare steak is. Think of the magnitude of the ocean. The sheer weight of the Rocky Mountains.

-Notice that it’s not the same as Matt’s account. It’s the exact same idea, by asking and inviting his kingdom to come, we are inherently asking for His will to be done, that’s where we’ll get the joy of seeing little glimpses of his kingdom breaking in right here on earth. And here’s one reality: what we’re doing right now is meant to be a glimpse of heaven’s realities. The closest thing we have of what heaven will look like is the church.

-“The hope is in the full realization and culmination of God’s promised rule. Ultimately, it is the eradication of evil and the manifestation of righteousness that is anticipated.” (Bock, 1053)

-We in the church, serve as ambassadors of another kingdom. One where evil no longer holds sway, where earthly enemies become family, where the greatest must become the lowest, where all the things our world emphasizes don’t matter! Each week we gather back together with our family to remind us who we are and whose we are.

-Our world tries to get all these benefits and realities, but they do it by using the wrong tools. Politics, force, legislation, finances. Do you want to know how to get these benefits and realities?

-Tied to Matt. 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

-Tim Keller (again) has such a good way of putting this: “If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not the near side.” 

-You want a good marriage? Holiness. You want to be content in your job? Holiness. You want to be a better parent? Holiness. 

-Another way of saying this: if you want true, lasting happiness, realize that we are citizens of a kingdom, we find true success/contentment by obeying the king.
-This isn’t what our world offers! Be true to yourself, look inside, find “your truth”

-The biggest thing I want you to take away from the first half of the Lord’s Prayer is the orientation. It begins vertically before it gets horizontal. 

-This is the goal of all of Scripture: vertical before horizontal. 10 commandments, the role of the prophets in the OT, the role of the priests in the OT, the role of Jesus in the NT.

-It’s not until we acknowledge who God is that we talk about us. And this first half should serve to refine/refocus the second half:

  • Our Need

-The first thing we ask is for what we need each day. 

-Notice “us” “each day” “daily bread”

-Meant to be communal, all of us praying this together (and individual)

-We should ask for today’s needs

-1st century people didn’t “stock the pantry” they each day had to figure out where their food would come from, they would feel the weight of this far more than we would (maybe we have too much)

-Grew up (and continue) praying before each meal, this is part of the reason, God doesn’t need to provide the excess that he has for us as He has for most of us for most of our lives

-Daily bread – bread was the lifeblood of this people. No gluten free here! If you didn’t have bread that day you didn’t eat.

-2 things in relation to the bread:

-manna in the wilderness wanderings

-I am the bread of life – if you don’t “eat” Jesus you spiritually die! (this also points us back to last week’s message on communion)

-The second need we have is in relation to our sins

-All have sinned. Sin is an act of rebellion against the sovereign Creator God. Each sin makes us worthy of eternal condemnation, so God sent his one and only Son to bear that penalty in our place 

-Yet we still need to regularly confess our sin (this becomes VERY easy when we’ve spent time praying through the first half of the prayer and we understand who God is)

-Luke connects “sins” to “indebtedness” sinning against someone places us in their debt (just as sinning against God places us in his debt) Since we have been forgiven something of eternal significance, we must forgive people for things that will disappear

-Finally, connected to the sins is the need to not be led into temptation

-God does not tempt us, but he will test us. (tested Abraham, tested Moses, tested David, all failed) thankfully we have someone who was tested/tempted but came out victorious! 

-Asking to not be led into temptation is the same thing as being asked to be delivered from evil.

-Summary: begin with God and who He is, look for ways in which His sovereign rule and reign are being seen around you and pray that continues, then you can ask for your needs of daily provision and repentance. 

-If you’ve ever recited the Lord’s Prayer in the church, you probably see something is missing at the end of both accounts! “For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

-Pretty early in the church that phrase got added as a doxology, final praise. Kingdom theme in the prayer, He has the power to forgive sins and take care of our needs, and we glory (glorify) Him by hallowing His name.

-Amen isn’t a sign off, it means we are all in agreement, and we believe what we have prayed will happen

  • Two Examples (5-13)

-In Luke’s account, Jesus follows this prayer up with 2 examples, ways in which we should think of prayer.

  1. A Friend (5-10)

-Hospitality was required in the first century, and if one person wasn’t able to provide what was needed it became an indictment on the whole community. 

-One friend has a friend arriving at midnight (well after bedtime) and doesn’t have any food for him, so he goes to his neighbor

-1st century houses were 1 room, and everyone slept together in the same bed, so going to knock on the house would wake up everyone. Including the kids

-Think of it like this – you have your phone next to your bed, and a friend calls you at midnight, you ignore it and go back to sleep. Calls again. Ignore again. Phone rings again and keeps going until you finally pick up! 

-The guy’s going to get what he wants! He finally gets the neighbor up and gets the bread he needs.

-Jesus is saying persistence pays off! He tells a similar story of a widow who keeps nagging a judge until the judge finally relents. But here’s where the analogy breaks down: God isn’t a neighbor we can annoy or a heard hearted judge – He’s a Father.

-Because of that, we can ask, seek and knock and God will answer.

  • A Father (11-13)

-All of us have father’s – a physical fact that I can guarantee! Some of you had good fathers, some of you had fathers you’d like to forget, but those of us who have been adopted by God have a perfect Father in heaven. Doesn’t take away earthly father wounds, but it does give us hope.

-Jesus uses a couple crazy examples to point out how fathers will do their best to care for their kids: ask for fish give him a poisonous snake, egg give him a scorpion. 

-The point: compared to God even the best earthly father in the world is evil.

-Parallel passage in Matt 7:11 “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

-The best gift God has given us is the indwelling presence of Himself – the Holy Spirit who leads us in righteousness, reminds us of the truth of God’s Word and works to sanctify us. 

-Jesus is giving a pattern for us to follow for all of our lives. By praying as He taught, it shapes our thinking, our patterns of life, and brings us closer into relationship with our loving heavenly Father.

-Take some time now to pray using the Lord’s prayer as your model! I’ll use the Matthew’s text with the doxology we’re used to, but please take a few minutes now to pray.

Amos 6 Sermon Manuscript

Lasting Justice and Righteousness

Amos 5:18-6:14

NOTE: This is the manuscript I use to preach from, which means somethings will not make sense unless you listen to the message itself. If you’d like to listen to that message, please click HERE.

-Looking in depth at justice last week, not going to dive in again. Summary: biblical justice is marked by: radical generosity, complete equality of person, special concern/care for the poor and marginalized, both corporate and individual responsibility.

-So often we think of justice as something we do “out there” and not affecting what we do “in here” We divorce our Sunday mornings from the rest of our week, but what we’re going to see today is the way we pursue justice will directly connect to our worship on Sunday morning

READ
PRAY

  1. Let Justice Roll (18-27)

-Woes begin here. That is, sorrow will be coming because judgment is coming

-Think of Jesus “woe to your scribes and Pharisees, you tithe your mint and cumin, but you neglect the weightier matters of the Law”

“Both notions (justice and righteousness) are wrapped up in Yahweh’s character and moral order, which were to be the foundations for the relational ethos, the social behavior, and the political, legal, and socioeconomic structures of the community. The leaders – in particular the king – were to embody these qualities and habits. This is why they are singled out for special judgment in Amos and throughout the prophetic literature.” (Carrol, NIV Study Bible, 307)

  1. The Day of the Lord (18-20)

-First woe is reserved for those who desire (crave) the day of the Lord.

-This is a theme throughout Israel’s history. If things get tough, just remember God will judge our enemies!

-There’s an element to that that’s true, right? 

-Think of a place like Deut. 32:36 “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.”

Acts 1:6 “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

-I pray regularly, “God please come soon.” Early church prayed “maranatha” 

-So why would God condemn them for their craving of this time when that’s a theme throughout the Bible and history?

-Because their fascination/fixation on the future led them to disregard their holiness in the presence. Does that sound like anyone you might know?

-Story working in college at a church who GUARANTEED Jesus was coming back in the pastor’s lifetime, so take on a bunch of debt.

-Guy from a previous church who “cracked the code” through astrology and was able to tell you the EXACT date Jesus is returning. Didn’t like it when I told him that “secret codes” and “hidden knowledge” is called Gnosticism and was labeled a heresy in the 4th century.

-There are 2 issues related to eschatology we need to be careful to avoid (define eschatology)

-Get’s tricky quickly, you’ve got historical premil, dispensational premil, amil, postmil, pretrib, postrib, midtrib, then you’ve got the person who say’s they’re panmil, we’ll see how it all pans out. Recommend The Future of Everything or Systematic Theology.

-Millard Erickson, Christian Theology “there is intensive preoccupation with eschatology…eschatomania. The opposite might be called eschatophobia. Somewhere between the two extremes of preococupation with and avoidance of eschatology, we must take our stance. For eschatology is neither in unimportant and optional topic, nor the sole subject of significance and interest to the Christian.” (1058-9)

-Don’t forget 1 Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

-These people – these leaders of Israel are so preoccupied with the future (eschatomania) they’re neglecting to live holy lives today. Church, let that not be true of us! 

(Erickson, 1059) “after describing the second coming and assuring his readers of its certainty, he councils, “therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). It is sometimes easy to forget that the eschatological truths in God’s word, like the rest of his revelation, our intended to comfort and assure us.” 

-Amos next uses a really funny example of “The day of the Lord” will look like

-Anyone ever watch the 3 stooges, or Mr Bean, or enjoy slapstick humor like that? That’s the exact picture Amos paints here!

-Imagine Larry, Curly, and Moe stumbling across a wild Lion, so they immediately turn and run away, yet in their haste to get away from the lion they’re not paying attention to where they’re running so they run straight into the side of a giant bear! They finally escape from the clutches of the bear, sprint into their house, slam the door, lock it, winded they lean up against the wall to catch their breath and their bitten by a snake! They can’t catch a break!

-And why is it this way? Why is “The day of the Lord” judgment and not celebration?

  1. Unacceptable Worship (21-23)

-If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am unbelievably passionate about worship. I think one of the primary ways we should be reading the Bible is through the lens of worship. Gen. 1 is meant to instill worship in all of us for the sovereign creator God, and Rev. 22 ends with the reminder that Jesus is coming soon where we’ll finally worship perfectly, then everything in between is how we worship God acceptably, with TONS of reasons historically and theologically.

-God begins “I hate” look back up at vs. 10. While His people hate those who bring about true/lasting justice, God hates their worship. 

-So why is God rejecting the worship of his people? This is a wholesale rejection of everything his people are trying to do. Look at the senses God uses. 

-Smell in vs. 21

-Sight in vs. 22

-Sound in vs. 23

-What exactly is it that makes God “hate” the worship of his people? Look at the next vs.

  1. Justice and Righteousness (24)

-Instead of fixating on the future, or offering up their plentiful acts of worship, God commands them to pursue justice and righteousness. We talked at great length about justice last week, what about righteousness?

-2 aspects to righteousness, God’s righteousness and our righteousness.

-Concept of being in right standing morally, ethically, spiritually, etc. But also has the idea of right living in the here and now.

-Read Rom. 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

-Law pointed to God’s righteousness, part of why the worship was called out is because it wasn’t connected to righteous living. 

-The way we can be righteous today is by putting our faith in Jesus

-That’s where we can connect the dots between justice & righteousness in our daily lives. Paul will go on to say we’re either slaves to sin or to righteousness, but if we’re slaves to righteousness it leads us to pursue biblical/lasting justice in every sphere of life.

-Our world has disconnected these 2 concepts: justice AND righteousness. Our world wants justice APART from righteousness, but you can’t have 1 without the other.

-Kingdom without the king.

-The idea of righteousness & justice is supposed to flow out in every area of our lives in overwhelming abundance, like waters & an ever-flowing stream.

-Compare to a wadi – water comes in small doses then leaves

-We as Christians are so tempted by our world to operate using the world’s ideas/patterns of thought. We’re trained to think in these bipolar/partisan ways where everything is either Republican OR Democrat, but God calls us out of that way of thinking INTO a whole new way of life. His kingdom is NOT of this world, his patterns of life, of growth, of holiness cannot be built on the foundation of what the world offers us. Jesus calls us to a brand new way of operating, and he does it by drawing us into a family. 

-Last week I talked about both the corporate and individual responsibility we have to live out a justice life, but one piece I didn’t bring up was the way the reciprocal is true in salvation. 

-Remember, the primary or strongest responsibility we have before the Lord is individual, we’re not off the hook for corporate sins/issues

-But in salvation we’re saved individually, and only by being a part of the corporate are we then saved through Jesus’ atoning blood and sacrifice

-Remember from 1 Peter 2:10 “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

-As God’s people, the church, we now have to look to bring about justice & righteousness wherever we find ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to be a part of a local church – we’re not lone ranger Christians, we’re called to a place AND A COMMUNITY for a reason! We need to demonstrate Christ’s love to the watching world, and then see God work in us and through us for his glory. Otherwise: 

  1. Exile (25-27)

-Just their worship previously was rejected by God, God brings it up again.

-Some debate here as to what God means. It’s a rhetorical question, but do we answer “no” or “yes”? If no, then what about all the instances where the Israelites DO offer sacrifices? If yes, then what is God’s point? 

-Most likely (and my opinion) is God is connecting it to justice & righteousness. The people’s worship (sacrifices & offerings) WAS connected to their justice & righteousness. AND it shows us that the right rituals were not the primary point. 

-Think of a place like John 4, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well and reminds her that a time is coming where worship will not longer be dependent on location – instead God’s people will worship 24/7/365.

-But this isn’t just a NT idea, in 1 Sam. 15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

-But look at what they’re doing with their worship now in vs. 26. These are Mesopotamian gods that the people have assimilated into their worship of Yahweh. So even if their feasts, assemblies, offerings, and songs were accepted by God, they were ALSO worshipping these other gods. 

-Don’t we have a tendency to do the same? We only “worship” if it’s the songs I like, the preacher I like who agrees with all the same things I agree with, the translation of the Bible I like, wearing the clothes I like in the room that is decorated up to my standards.

-I have a friend who is a Pastor at a church where they don’t do any of the songs he likes. Isn’t that a better opportunity to worship than if it’s just the songs you like?

-Because the people are fixating on the future, are worshipping both unacceptably AND the wrong gods, God, the God of hosts, who can defeat all these other tiny little gods, will send them into exile

  1. Woes of Complacency (6:1-14)

-Just as the leadership has been previously called out, the leadership is going to be called out once again.

-Remember these people were waiting for the “day of the Lord” to come, they were in the midst of a good economic season, so they felt like everything was going to be just fine

  1. Look at the Nations (1-3)

-These people acted as if they were the best people in the world! They were the best nation, they had wealth, they had prosperity, but as we’ve been seeing throughout this section instead of utilizing their wealth to serve others, it was to pack their own houses

-In vs. 2, God basically tells them to look at all the nations from the N to the S, nations that once were prosperous and had tons of land, but had been beaten into submission and now were tiny nations compared to Israel

-Then, vs. 3, weird idea that they are assuming the “day of disaster” is a long time away. Everything’s fine so party hard! But because they assume that it’s far off they can do whatever they want, or in this case “bring near the seat of violence.”

-How many people today live this way? According to a 2019 Experian review, the average American carries $6,194 of credit card debt. That is putting off the day of disaster, discontent to live within the means and times we’ve been given. Now – being in debt is not inherently sinful, so if you need financial help, we’ve got a class for you right now!

-The second half of this verse gets to how these people were not living enacting true and lasting justice in their current context. They were so fixated on the future they neglected to care for those nearby.

  1. Woe to the Wealthy (4-7)

-God then moves on to a second woe, this time explicitly focused on the wealthy.

-Look at all these descriptions:

-lie on beds of ivory – yes, that is a 4 post EXPENSIVE bed

-stretch on their couches – spread themselves out lazily

-eat lambs and calves – while the rest of the nation is given to “cleanness of teeth” the wealthy are eating the finest meats

-sing idle/lazy songs – they comparing their lazily written songs to David

-drink wine in bowls – wine isn’t cheap, and they drink it by the bowl full1
-Anoint with finest oils – just as wine isn’t cheap, neither is oils! Ever been to bath & body works? 

-They have all these riches, their excess is clearly demonstrated, but they don’t give a rip about the destruction taking place around them. 2 options for the last line of vs. 6: either ignoring the societal ruin God has brought around them, or they’re ignoring the incoming judgment 

-Yet those who think they’re hot stuff, always tooting their own horns and neglecting to care for those nearby them will be the first ones to be taken away into exile.

-Jer. 9:23-24 “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

  1. God’s Judgment (8-14)

-God won’t mess around. He’s willing to deal with his people in a destructive way. Because his people are prideful, God says he hates it, and will therefore destroy the city.

-Vs. 9-10 are a little bit weird. A house has been destroyed, relatives are searching for bodies to deal with. One asks if there’s anyone still in the house, the other says no, then one replies “Silence! We must not mention the name of the Lord!” A few options:

-First is fear of mentioning God’s name will bring more judgment

-Second is worry that if he uses God’s names as a curse he will be judged

-Another is there’s no reason to cry out to God anymore, they’re all dead. 

-I’ll let you pick whichever one you like best!

-Vs. 11 gives us another description of the destruction, both great houses and little houses will face ruin.

-Then we end up with some more word play and slapstick humor in 12-13

-First, do horses run on rocks? Ever seen a horse race? Are there big boulders for them to run through? No! Hooves would be destroyed!

-Second, many scholars break these Hebrew words out a little differently and end up with the phrase “Does one plow the sea with oxen?” Has anyone here been to the beach? Dig a trench and what happens? Yeah, immediately covered. Not to mention if you did find a way to plow then you’re using salt water to try to grow crops. Not a great combo!

-Just as ridiculous to try having horses run on rocks or plow the sea with oxen, is what the people are doing with justice and righteousness. Remember, we saw wormwood pop up last week in 5:7

-But these people are so prideful that they continue boasting!

-Lo-debar is a city, but it literally means no-thing! So they rejoice that they have captured “nothing!” Ever been to the Grand Canyon? Or see mountains? Or the northern lights? Some amazing feature God has made. Push ups.

-Then they think they captured Karnaim by themselves. Karnaim is an allusion to horns which stands for strength throughout the OT. But their boasting leads to the last verse:

-As they boast in their strength, God is working behind the scenes to destroy them. The 2 places listed refer to the northernmost part to the southernmost part of Jeroboam’s kingdom. 

-We saw today that we cannot divorce our weekly living from our Sunday morning worship, otherwise God will not be pleased with the way we’re worshipping Him, and we’ll be tempted to think we’ve accomplished what we have in our own strength and ways instead of realizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from a good, holy Sovereign creator!

What I was listening to this week, this song was playing in the background of my mind as I wrote this week’s message, and also played on repeat during the long drive in Indianapolis and back!

Music for EFCA Theology Conference 2021

I’m looking forward to leading the music for this year’s EFCA Theology Conference! While I’m sad we won’t be in person (there’s something fun about joining with 400 pastors from across the country to sing LOUDLY together!), I’m thankful that we can continue meeting and singing despite a pandemic preventing us from all being in the same place. I try to use this conference to equip pastors with a couple ideas. First, that you don’t need a giant band every week. We can sing praises to God with just a piano and our voices, and sometimes just our voices! Second, I hope to gives pastors some ideas of songs (old and new) they can take home and teach to their congregations that are biblical true, easy to sing, catchy melodies, and will help move the head knowledge to a heart knowledge where we can take the things we’re learning and apply them to our lives. This year, I thought I would add links to where all the music can be found.

All Creatures of Our God and King

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery (Praisecharts)

Speak, O Lord (Praisecharts)

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death (Praisecharts)

Jesus, Strong and Kind

Only a Holy God

King Of Kings (Praisecharts)

He Leadeth Me

Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right

Yes I Will (Praisecharts)

I’ve also compiled on these songs on a Spotify playlist that you can find HERE. Because of the theme of this year’s conference, I’ve also put together an additional playlist that is various musical interpretations of various Psalms, which you can find HERE.

June 26 Devotional

This week’s message we’ll be backing up and covering what we didn’t cover last week! Luke 9:1-9:
 
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.
 
This is the first time we see Jesus sending out his disciples as his ambassadors, charged with both representing him to the world and carrying out his ministry of healing. Think of how the disciples would have felt! They’d been with Jesus seeing him perform these miracles for a while now, and now it was their turn! Think back to when you got your driver’s license! Did you sense the immense privilege that came with that? You suddenly had the ability to go anywhere you wanted! At least as long as your parents would let you! This is a bit like what the disciples would have felt here. The training wheels were coming up and there was a new found freedom, a slight taste of what would be coming after Jesus’ resurrection. And even in the midst of their journey, Jesus would need to continue providing for them, as the only thing they were to take was the clothes on their backs. Talk about walking by faith! As they go on their way, Luke says they preached the gospel and healed. That’s a good description of what we’re called to today! We’re called to preach the gospel, and do our best to help take care of those within our sphere of influence. 
 
After giving us the story of the disciple’s first missionary journey, Luke then focuses in on one person’s response. Herod. Well, one of the Herods! This is during the time of the “Herodian dynasty” which was a bit like a soap opera! This is the same Herod who beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist in a fit of lustful exuberance. As Jesus’ fame spread, eventually word reaches Herod’s ears that there’s something unique about this Jesus guy. Some said that he was John raised from the dead, others thought Elijah had returned to usher in the new reign, or maybe even one of the other lowly prophets had come back. Because of this notoriety, John was intrigued enough to the point that he tried to go see Jesus. Some scholars think this is part of the reason Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee in the next verse to go to Bethsaida. Either way, one thing for us to take away from this is the need for us to live lives that are different so that others will see our changed lives and ask questions about why we are the way we are (1 Peter 3:15). 
 
SONG:
We’re going to go with a throwback song today with some old school Lecrae from my high school days! This song is called ‘Send Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 24 Devotional

We’ll be continuing Hebrews today looking at Hebrews 3:7-19:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Continuing to build upon his theme here, the author is reminding us to hold fast to our hope in Christ. He begins by quoting from Psalm 95, which every Jew would have known! It served as the call to worship every Sabbath gathering the Jews met in the synagogues. This was the reminder to don’t just become numb or callous to God’s Word, instead take it in, meditate upon it, let it soak and saturate your entire life. The warning that served the nation of Israel is just as important for us today! Do not harden your hearts in response to God’s Word, do not put Him to the test, instead remember that God is perfectly just, and we should do our best to keep short accounts with Him. James picks up this idea in James 4:17 where he says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This is another way of saying the same thing the author of Hebrews is saying.
 
The author then uses this well known call to worship to exhort his congregation to not be like the people of God in the past! This is part of the reason we need to regularly gather together as God’s people! The author here is commanded us to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ’today.’” That is, we should seek to be encouraging each other on in our faith, as the author of Hebrews reminds us later “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  This is yet another reminder that when we are called as believers, we are called into a community. There are both individual and communal aspects to our salvation, and we cannot neglect either of them! We must do our best individually to follow Christ, but we cannot do it alone, we need to look for opportunities to encourage others to be obedient in their faith.
SONG:
Today’s song is a Sovereign Grace song titled ’Not in Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 22 Devotional

Happy Monday! We’ll be looking at Psalm 10 today:
 
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
   he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
    he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,
    and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
    forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
    and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
    that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
    call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever;
    the nations perish from his land.
O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
 
Do you find it funny that anytime a disaster strikes people begin to ask “where is God?” I distinctly remember September 12, 2001 when it seemed that every newspaper headline had that question as their lead article. This Psalm is asking that exact same question. But the author here has come to a different conclusion than The Beatles who said “When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” The Psalmist isn’t content to just “let it be” everything within him cries out for justice! He is asking God to uphold his promise to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Specifically, the Psalmist is comparing the way of the wicked. Many times it seems like they get away with their evil schemes! They seek to take advantage of the oppressed and marginalized and in the midst of that they are renouncing God. As D.A. Carson has said they have de-godded God himself, committing idolatry, putting themselves in the place of God.
 
But God doesn’t just sit back and let evildoers get away with it, and the Psalmist knows this to be true! So he begs God to arise and don’t forget those who are opposed and afflicted! God sees everything that takes place and will being people to justice. Those who have no one else to care for them can look to God as the perfect Heavenly Father to care for them in spite of the evildoers who are continually trying to take advantage of them. And that’s the hope we have in this life. The Psalmist says “The Lord is king forever and ever, the nations perish from his land.” Because God’s throne is unceasing and unfailing, we know our outcome is secure. No matter what evil is done to us on earth we know God will execute His perfect judgment at His perfect time when He returns to judge the living and the dead.
 
SONG:
Today’s song is a cover song by the band The Digital Age called ‘Break Every Chain’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.