Sunday, August 18, 2019

Reminders: God

We are down to my last two sermons as your pastor. And I’ve been doing a good bit of thinking and praying about what I should talk to you about during these last two weeks. Actually, I was just considering a last sermon, but the list of things that I was eager to talk about with you grew quite large. And that’s why my last sermon became my last two sermons.

As I considered what to do, there was something Peter wrote that was prominent in my thinking.

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:12–15

Peter was soon to leave those saints, just as I will be leaving you. And just like Peter, I want to do what I can to make sure that you will remember some important things so that you can understand life. And I do that because, just like Peter, I know that how you understand life will define the kind of life that you will lead. I want you to be able to live well.

So, this week and next, I will remind you of some biblical themes that I have taught you, and I do that so that, just as Peter said,

after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

A Prayer

We live in a world that can, at times, be harsh. Sometimes, it's other people who complicate our lives. But then, at other times, it's just how the events of each day unfold. And while much of the time, it's just a matter of a bit of inconvenience, there are those times when we wished it was only a matter of inconvenience.

And yet, we know, Father, that You are near to us as we make our way through this world. And You are near to do us good. In fact, even in the harsh events of this life, You are near to use those events to bring about much good, good for Your kingdom as well as good for us.

So, Father, we would simply ask that You would build up our faith so that when we hit those hard spots, whether merely some inconvenience or something much worse, we would trust You to act. Grant us the ability to turn to You, to make clear our needs to You, so that, by Your grace, instead of being overwhelmed by what is going on, we would be at peace.

Father, we are asking for this not merely for our own sakes. We know that we live in a place and a time where people are increasingly uninterested in listening to a presentation of the Gospel. However, as their lives fall apart - and that is increasingly the case for more and more people - if they could see our lives, lives that aren't falling apart, they would come to us and ask how we do that. That's when they will be willing to listen. So, for the sake of the spread of the Gospel, for the sake of the honor of Your name, we ask that You would grant our request. Grant us the grace to believe this part of the Gospel, especially when we are tempted not to believe it. Grant us the ability to trust You in every situation of life and thus to live well. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Friday, August 16, 2019

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6.9-10

Confession of Sin
Our Father, we hear Your call to persevere in doing good. And yet, we have to admit that we, at times, give in to the weariness and stop. We give up when it gets too hard. This is disobedience. This is sin. We ask that You would forgive us this sin. We ask that You would give us the ability to continue to do what is good to others, even when it gets hard. We ask that You would remind us that there will be a time of reaping, if we do not give up. We ask this through our faithful Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28.13

May the Father forgive us by the death of his Son and strengthen us to live in the power of the Spirit all our days.
The Book of Common Prayer

Scripture to Meditate On

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but 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. Romans 12.1–2

There are two things that stand out here. First, there's Paul's comment about the Christian's mind. It needs to be renewed. And that makes sense. How we think about things is so very important. So, for example, consider someone who does not think that there is a god, but that he is on his own in dealing with life. How different from someone who is convinced that the God of the Bible not only exists but that He is near to lead him through life. That is a thought, an aspect of the mind, that makes a huge difference. The same is true about other ideas revealed in the Bible. And it's a sad fact that we all believe too many lies about how life works. Our minds need to be renewed to believe the truth of the Gospel. That is what Paul is calling for.

The other thing to note is that Paul understands that we are not just minds. Life for us includes what happens with our bodies. In fact, the things that our minds embrace will show themselves through our bodies, in how we act. So, we are to present our bodies as the way that our minds express our believing God's truths.

This bit of Scripture is connects the two parts of Paul's letter. It leans on the truths of the Gospel that were explained earlier in the letter. It also leads to the rest of the letter where Paul explains how the Gospel is to be lived.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Following Jesus

A key question for every Christian is simply this: How can I do a good job following Jesus? Boil everything down, and that is one of the fundamentals of Christian living. So, today we are going to take a look at an answer to that question. And to do that we’re going to take a look at Abram. What God did with him will provide some insight so that you can answer our question well.

Listen as I read the first recorded interaction between Yahweh and Abram.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1–2a

The first thing that we need to do is to be clear about what it is that God is saying to Abram. Once that’s in place we’ll be able to see how this helps to answer our question of doing well at following Jesus.

A Prayer

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:1,2

How good it is for us to say that this is true not just of David but of us as well. Once, because of our sin, we were in the pit of destruction. We were trapped in the miry bog of our depravity. But you did not leave us there. By Your great grace, You rescued us. You sent Your Son, our Lord Jesus. And because of what He has done, You set our feet upon a rock, making our steps secure. You have been so good to us.

And that by itself would have been more than enough for You to gain our thanks. But You haven't acted just once in our lives. There have been other times when we were ensnared by some aspect of our sin. And in those other times, we cried out to You. And You heard our cries and  acted. We were in need, real need, and You acted. You rescued us from the things that were confronting us.

And what happened to David as a result of Your rescue has also happened to us.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3

We do praise You, Father, for how You have rescued us, time and again. And we are sure that there will be many more times when we will cry out to you and find that You will once again act to rescue us.

We echo David's expectation as we consider all of this.

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3

We thank You, Father, for being the kind of Father that You are to us. It is our desire to see many put their trust in You, something that will make You look as good as You are. Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.